Today we live in a place and time where it would be very easy to loose focus on Jesus Christ and turn to someone or something else to worship. We have to ask ourselves what or who comes first in our lives? Is it the creator of the universe? In the book of Exodus it states; “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them…(EX 20:3-5).” This commandment is known as idolatry. Idolatry means: the divinization of a creature in place of God; the substitution of some one (or thing) for God; worshiping a creature (even money, pleasure, or power) instead of the creator.
When it comes to statues, someone outside of the Catholic faith might wonder, “Do Catholics violate what Mosses said about worshiping graven images because of all the statues on display in their homes or churches?” And the answer is of course ‘no.’ Catholics put statues in Churches for the same reason that a person puts pictures of his family on the walls in his house. Catholics use statues, paintings, and other artistic devices to recall the person or thing depicted. Just as it helps to remember one’s mother by looking at her photograph, so it helps to recall the example of the saints by looking at pictures of them. There are many Christian denominations who use religious instructional books and children’s Bibles that have pictures of Jesus in them. Aren’t pictures of Jesus two-dimensional images? Is this breaking God’s commandment? Not at all!
What about the command not to have any gods before me? This is where we are faced with the question, “Do I put something in place of God as an idol?” Jesus told us in the Gospel of Matthew that, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:19-21).” What do you and I treasure the most in this life? Well, some of us might say our family, our marriage, our relationships with friends, etc. Those things are very good and indeed treasures. In fact, we could say that those are some good treasures God has blessed us with. And as Jesus said, if we lay up treasures in heaven, then no one can take it from us because it is promised by God. And if our treasure is in heaven (the ultimate treasure), then our hearts will also be. So then that’s where we will be once our life on earth comes to an end.
But what about those false treasures or false gods we tend to gravitate to? You and I can be tempted to worship many things that are not of God, such as sports. Now I personally love sports, but if I take that love of sports to an extreme, then it can become an idol. It can actually get in the way of God. Do you know people who love sports so much that they get caught up in knowing statistics, averages, players and every little detail about it, but they couldn’t tell you what the 10 commandments are? For some people, their love of sports crowds out their love of God.
What about news? You probably know someone that has the cable news station on their television all day long (from the time they get up until they go to bed). They are always wanting to know any kind of news, including new news events or news on what’s going on at any given time of day. We might refer to that person as a “news junkie.” I would say that has to be at least “border line” idolatry. What about the entertainment industry? Everything it does seems to be geared to create idols. There is even a show called “American Idol.” Now I am not saying anything is wrong with the show, but the title seems to illustrate the mentality of what movies and television shows present to us. There is a culture of idolizing actors, singers and other people on television.
What about the idols of food and drink? For some people, food is always on their mind. In fact, it controls them. Alcohol can be another type of idol if it consumes the person. For some people it may be the false idolatry of drugs. It might be the high they get from their drug of choice. What about gossip? What about watching television for hours on end, but we don’t find time to pray or read the Bible? What about all the toys we have, whether cars, trucks, motorcycles, four-wheelers, boats, i-phone, computer and the like? Toys are fun, but when they become our idols, then that is when the line is crossed. For some of us though, we might have a hard time with the idol worship of “ourselves.”
So ,let’s you and I continue to look at our lives and seek to lose the false gods that try and put God in second place.
Until next time, God bless.