Friday, November 7, 2008

American Idols

What would it be like if we really handled things the way the Old Testament tells us to? Take idols for instance - anything that becomes a god for us instead of The God. We live in a pluralistic society where people worship all sorts of things and come from all kinds of faith traditions. Most of us have family members, perhaps under our own roof, who don't share our Christian faith. Should we follow the Old Testament law about how to deal with them? Deuteronomy 13:6-11 gives this guidance:

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, "Let us go and worship other gods" (gods that neither you nor your fathers have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield to him or listen to him. Show him no pity. Do not spare him or shield him. You must certainly put him to death. Your hand must be the first in putting him to death, and then the hands of all the people. Stone him to death, because he tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

Ouch! Today that would mean 25 million teens and tweens who watch a tired American Idol would be stoned in ways they aren't already!
Most of us prefer, "Love your neighbor" and we hope people from other faiths do too.
The truth is, there's a lot of historical and cultural context that must be understood when reading passages like that. But perhaps the core truth we can still take away is that God takes our worship, love and service of him VERY seriously. Nothing else is to get in the way. And yet, all too often, everything else gets in the way. Idols abound, especially in the land of plenty. In times of economic trouble, one of the big blessings that might come is a return to God as God. Having the plenty stripped away, even in part, leads to a potential revelation of what idols we have been serving - and who God really is. - Curtis


  1. It seems that a theocracy, such as described in Deuteronomy 13, is the ideal form of government. But it's not possible without God's direct intervention (as in ancient Israel, and the future culmination of God's kingdom - Micah 4:2; Rev. 21:6-8). Men have tried it and failed, and will fail. Without God's concrete presence, it's one of the worst forms of government. Men can (and must) judge crimes of action, such as violence. But sins of motive and the heart are beyond men's capacity to punish (although they sometimes try, in issues like "hate-crime" legislation).

    Lest we consider our society superior to that of ancient Israel, we need to recall that "Love your neighbor" is from Leviticus (19:18), a book that is often dismissed. But it occurs in a context (ch. 19, the Holiness code) that sets the bar for social justice. Jesus didn't invent these concepts; he took them from ancient Israel's God-given regulations. Too many people like to contrast Jesus (love) with Old Testament morality (law). Sorry, it doesn't work; they are in harmony, coming from the same divine source.


  2. Curt-

    Interesting topic choice on the Sunday following the election of Barrack Obama.



Thanks for posting!