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So at the sound of the musical instruments, all the people, whatever their race or nation or language, bowed to the ground and worshiped the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Daniel 3:7 (NLT)

As I was getting ready during my morning routine last week I noticed some interesting text on the back of the bottle of body wash I was using. The wording was, Will this make me an idol? By the way, I should note this cleansing solution was purchased in a health and wellness store so the brand doesn’t start with A and end in E. If you are around any Jr. High boys that previous sentence will make perfect sense.

I read the question and my first thought was, “I certainly hope not.” As I continued to get ready the question began nagging at me. What is our deal with idol worship? American Idol, with ‘Idol’ in the name of the show, is really just scratching the surface. I realize bringing up American Idol sounds like a message series circa 2008. Nonetheless, the example is too good not to mention.

There have been a lot of expository sermons and biblical research on the topic of idol worship. This blog post isn’t going to aim for a scholarly dispensation regarding the specifics and history of idol worship. I can definitively state that it’s been around for a loooong time and it isn’t going to stop anytime soon.

I don’t think Idol worship is really about a golden image. It’s about our hearts. It’s more specifically about what we desire and who we want to desire us. In other words, idol worship goes both ways. It’s who or what we worship and asking others to pay us homage and adoration.

Think you’re above idol worship? That you could never possibly worship something other than God? That you could never expect anyone to worship you? I’d like to think I am. But if I really search my heart, I know I’m susceptible, even guilty more often than I would care to admit.

Several years ago I was running sound for my former youth pastor at a small church. He was performing that night as part of a revival. Before he started the concert the song leader came up to lead everyone in a couple of hymns. I’ll abbreviate how it went down: No guitar, drums, or bass. Out of tune piano. Really out of tune vocalist. Half-tempo pace. Musically challenging to the ears. In other words, I felt as if I was being sonically assaulted. I distinctly remember thinking, “Ugh. Where’s the good music? You know, the energy, the drums, the love… this is not worship.”

Then God spoke something very simple to my heart that I’ll never forget. “Do you need drums to worship me? Do you even need modern music? Aren’t I worthy of praise just simply for who I am? Can you worship me in complete silence?”

Me = busted. Idol worship. I was more consumed with the music instead of simply turning my affections towards God. Do I have musical preferences? Absolutely. But if those preferences get in the way of my ability to simply adore the Great I Am then I’m missing the point.

The challenge is to consistently evaluate the motives of my heart. Am I playing for an audience of One; or am I hoping to impress those I’m leading? Is my primary concern to care for those around me; or will I use my influence to get what I want? Idol worship isn’t as obvious as we might think. It’s insidious and often initially unnoticed. May the God of Marvelous Light point out the areas where we’ve succumb to idol worship and give us the grace to worship Him alone.

Til next time,