We tend to think of idolatry in the 21st century as different from that which we read about in the Bible—especially the Old Testament. We speak of idolatry in connection with intangible things like power, wealth, relationships, sexual desires, etc., rather than the images carved out of wood, stone, or metal so often referenced in the Old Testament. In some way, we may feel we’re too sophisticated now to worship those tangible objects that plagued our predecessors.
However, this week when the rock music artist Prince died, I was profoundly reminded of the propensity all humans have to worship something. His death dominated the news at every level—nationally, regionally, and locally. There have been hundreds of “live” reports given from the various locations associated with him. Billboards throughout Minneapolis are paying homage to him by flashing his image and the symbols he used during his career to establish his “brand.” Radio stations have interrupted their regular programming to play Prince music non-stop for days. Interviews with weeping and distraught fans have been aired and printed in the local media. There have even been god-like references made about him such as: “In Prince we trust” or “Hail to thee, Prince.”
What this all points to is our innate human desire to want to worship something or someone. It is a God-given impulse that is good and right and satisfying—but only when it’s directed toward the one true God. How quickly we begin to turn our worship impulse toward mere mortals like Prince or other earthly, temporal idols. The warnings in the Bible against such idolatry are many and serious:
You shall have no other gods before me. Ex. 20:3
You shall not make idols for yourselves or erect an image or pillar, and you shall not set up a figured stone in your land to bow down to it, for I am the LORD your God. Lev. 26:1
And if you forget the Lord your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Deut. 8:19
So while we are to enjoy the delights of this world that the Lord has made, we must ever be on guard against our natural tendency to turn enjoyable things into idols.
May the Lord grant us the wisdom to see such idolatry and to crush it before it crushes us.
Tim Tomlinson President Bethlehem College and Seminary
Learning to Lament Through the Gift of Lymphoma This past weekend faculty member Travis Myers preached at Bethlehem Baptist Church. He shared the Lord’s faithfulness in his journey through cancer diagnosis and treatment.
1. Please be in prayer for our students and faculty as the end of the school year draws near. Pray for stamina and for protection against temptations to make idols out of grades and college degrees.
2. Please be in prayer for me and the rest of the Executive Team as we strategize and plan for the coming school year during a retreat this week.
3. Please also keep praying for our faculty search process. We were dealt a bit of a setback with regard to one favorite candidate, but we are still confident that the Lord will provide the right person for the coming year.
4. As always, please keep praying for the Lord to continue to pour out his blessings on the school financially. It is important for the long-term viability and vitality of the school that we be able to lay up a strong financial foundation that will keep us steady, strong, and unwavering in the face of increasing persecution of institutions like ours.