American Idols

The following comes from a post from American Creed:

Christians have many idols they worship, along with claiming to worship God.  One idol in particular encapsulates this duality in Christian worship.  This idol that steals the affections of Christians from the one true God, especially in the South, is college football.  “Roll Tide” has become somewhat of a call to worship for some.  Everywhere you go in the South Christians proudly display their allegiance to some college football team.  Their passion for their god of football is evident in their religious devotion on Saturdays to park themselves in front of the television screen.  They raise their hands unashamedly, jumping up and down in celebration of victory, even merely for a touchdown or turnover.  They place flags on their cars, banners on their porches to let everyone know whom they worship.  They defend their teams honor every chance they get.

Curiously, when Sunday morning rolls around, their passion is gone.  Instead of unashamedly raising their hands during the worship service in celebration of Christ’s victory, they stuff their hands in their pockets until after the song is over.  Only then do they clap their hands, as if at a concert, letting the worship team know what a great job they did.  They are timid in telling others of the reason for their faith.  Sure these Christians put on a religious face and talk “Christianese.”  They “fear the Lord,” whatever that means to them.  But, they also serve their own gods, too.  Their worship of God and understanding of God’s Word is infantile.  They haven’t grown up to needing the meat of the Word.  Idols in their lives have stunted their spiritual growth.  They are loyal to some idea of who God is, but do not really understand their faith.  Nor, do they have a passion to do so.  Idols have stolen our passion for God.

[…]

Our nation is in trouble because the Church is too preoccupied with idols to be effective in evangelism and discipleship.  We need to tear down the idols in our lives like Josiah did in II Kings 23.  He brought them out of the House of the LORD, took them to the brook Kidron, burned them, stamped them into powder and spread the remains of the graves of the people.  That is how thoroughly we need to demolish the idols in our lives.

I have to say I am guilty of putting things before God.  One thing I have noticed about myself, when I slack off in reading the Bible and/or attending church, I find myself becoming easily irritated.  It usually takes a week or so to set in, but given enough time, I become down right irritable.  I’m not trying to suggest that like is peaches when I’m focused, but there is a noticeable difference in my life when God is not at the fore in my attention.

Comments

  1. Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian (I get the impression college sports are a much bigger deal in the US then here, where teams are lucky if anyone outside their schools have any awareness that they exist, never mind go to any games), but this reads as a strange sort of attack on Christians. Yes, I do see the point of hypocrisy, but is the author really suggesting that Christians cannot be passionate about anything else? That showing passion for a team, or anything other then their faith = idolatry? That if they *aren’t* equally passionate in their worship services, they are hypocrits?

    There is a time and a place for certain behaviours. Watching a game is the place for extroverted excitement, whooping and hollering. If I walked into a church service where people acted the same way as I see people acting at games, I’d be out of there in a heartbeat. That some Christians behave one way at a game and another at services does not mean they are necessarily putting things before God (though it’s certainly true that some people do).

    It seems to me that we have another case of someone who has an idea of how Christians ought to be, and because they aren’t, they are therefore not good Christians.

    • Kunoichi

      Yeah, as a Canadian it doesn’t translate. In college towns where division 1 football is played especially, people can be over the top fanatical. The point of American Creed’s post, as best I can tell, is people are often more willing to brag on, publicly voice their love for, and all around make it known that they love “their team”, but not necessarily so much for God. Its not really about having passion for something as much as it is showing more passion for something that isn’t God, and thus an idol.

  2. You know, it is amazing how people miss the entire point of things. I am not sure if Christians do not want to hear that they have idols in their lives or that they don’t want to give up their idols. I suppose I could have written an entire book to deal with every nuance, but, somehow, I think there would still be nay-sayers. I could have written a chapter on “Being Passionate About Football Is Not Necessarily Sin” and still there would be the question of “So, what are you saying? If you have too much passion for football it is sin? And how much passion is too much?” They input the meaning “he says watching football is idolatry. Therefore, I’m not going to listen to anything he has to say.” They still want to walk that balance.

    I think the comment above comes close to making my point that I think balance is not what we need. We have been trying to balance our idols with the worship of God. We need to love the LORD our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This is extreme. We need to worship God in the extreme. I don’t mean to be swinging from the rafters and going crazy. Worship is done decently and in order. But the worship I see in many churches is passionless, emotionless, lifeless. I believe our worship posture is a good indication of who/what we worship. Your passion is where your treasure is. So, yes, I do think that being more passionate about football than about Jesus does smack of idolatry.

    The Church in Canada seems just as impotent as the Church in America. With hate speech laws criminalizing the condemnation of homosexuality, legalization of same-sex “marriage,” human rights commissions fining Christians and threatening them with jail time for taking stands against sin, etc., the Church in Canada is ineffective in influencing public policy, as in America. This challenge to put aside idols should be given to the Church in Canada as well.

    I knew my post would rankle some people. Yes, it is a challenge to Christians, because they need to be challenged. My blog post is like a letter to the Churches in the book of Revelation. It is given with love and instruction. My post is to bring life, not destruction. I just hope that I make them uncomfortable in their idolatry so they return to the worship of the one true God.

    • ” I don’t mean to be swinging from the rafters and going crazy. Worship is done decently and in order. But the worship I see in many churches is passionless, emotionless, lifeless. ”

      Now, I can agree with this, absolutely. That’s not what I got from the piece quoted, which to me came across as saying being passionate about other things = idolatry. There’s a big difference between being passionate about something and worshiping it, as if it were God. It’s a blanket statement that I think is too assumptive. It’s the old “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” thing. Unless you know people well enough to know their thoughts and emotions about things, you can’t assume that, because they are outwardly passionate about X, Y or Z, but not outwardly passionate during church services, then they are guilty of the sin of idolatry. I suppose my objection comes down to how broad the definition of “idol” seems to be in context of the post.

      There’s another side to it as well. I’ve been to services that were loud and boistrous, and I’ve met people who are outwardly passionate about their faith. You know what? I found them really creepy and uncomfortable to be around. The individuals tended to be very cultish in their behaviour, with little in the way of rational thought going on in their heads (very hard to hold a conversation with someone that over the top – and it applies as much to some atheists I’ve known as theists). The services I’ve attended that were like this had their rock bands and people swaying, singing and waving their arms in the pews as if they were in a concert, and I found little substance to the homilies to back anything up. It was all flash and emotion. Then everybody left, all jazzed up and excited, and… that was it.

      “…is people are often more willing to brag on, publicly voice their love for, and all around make it known that they love “their team”, but not necessarily so much for God.”

      Hmm… I think part of that might be connected to that “war on Christianity” that I keep being told doesn’t exist. Talk about God in casual conversation and you’re likely to be attacked for it. It doesn’t help that a lot of people who *do* talk about their faith publicly are often… well, like my mother. She’s most likely schizophrenic (can’t get her to a doctor long enough for a proper diagnosis), and one of the ways her illness manifests itself is through religious fanaticism.

      ” Its not really about having passion for something as much as it is showing more passion for something that isn’t God, and thus an idol.”

      I find this a really broad definition of “idol” and idolatry. I show more passion for a lot of things that aren’t God, but I sure as heck don’t hold them above God. When I talk about God publicly, I do so with rational discussion and argumentation. To me, it’s a chance to engage intellectually with others. I save the rah-rah for less important things. This is not to say I’m dispassionate when talking about God publicly – quite the opposite – but that it’s going to visually manifest itself very differently.

  3. It just goes to show that living one’s life with purpose and for a cause larger than oneself leads to greater happiness.

  4. When Peter healed the crippled man in Acts 3, the man was expressive in his worship. His heart of gratefulness could not be contained in a “solemn reverence.” His thankfulness made him go walking and leaping and praising God. He was unashamed to have others seeing him worship God. David danced with all his might when the Ark of the Covenant was returned to Israel. David was passionate for God and loved Him will all his strength, as well as his heart, soul and mind. II Samuel 6:14-16.

    We have much more to be thankful for if we have been forgiven of our sins. Our salvation is sure. Our eternity is set. That ought to make us excited. That ought to stir us emotionally. That ought to animate us and revive our passions. We are to worship the LORD in spirit and in truth. Unfortunately, much of Christendom reacts to sincere, passionate worship of God the same way Michal did in II Samuel 6:16 and 20. They despise worship done in spirit and in truth. They mock and sneer at those who have given all to Jesus. They say dancing, clapping, leaping is disorderly, undignified and mired in confusion. (I Samuel 19:13 records Michal, David’s wife, used the family idol- teraphim- to help David escape when Saul was going to kill him. Perhaps when Michal was later returned to David she kept the family idol in the home. Regardless, her sneering at the worship of God indicates she served other gods.)

    Whether God allows evil to overwhelm the world, we still need to worship him in spirit and in truth. We need to tear down idols, or anything that we refuse to acknowledge as idols but has taken away our passion for God. God wants us to worship him with sincerity and devotion. We need undivided hearts.

    A Church with undivided passions will see revival.

    • ” They say dancing, clapping, leaping is disorderly, undignified and mired in confusion.”
      Hmm. I do see your point. I think part of my hesitation is that the times I *have* seen that sort of thing, those activities are more about “look at me!” then any actual worship of God. I’ve seen people do it because everyone else is doing it, to go along with the crowd, and I know people who act like this as a way of lording it over others, showing that they are just sooooo much better then others.

      The other thing for me is that I don’t expect everyone to show their passion for God the same way. Some people are exhuberant. Others are not. Both have their own ways of standing up and showing their faith. One is not superiour to the other. Both are needed.

      • Worship of God is not simply for the worshipper. Worship of God is for God. If no one knows you are worshipping, how is it fully giving glory to God? I know a lot of times people worship to bring attention to themselves. God is not glorified in it, but a “solemn reverence” can often be a cop-out for people too timid to worship God.

        How do we know people are passionate for God if they never show it. I suggest, more times than not, if people are not showing passion for God, they do not have passion for God.

        • ” If no one knows you are worshipping, how is it fully giving glory to God?”

          Worship is for God, not for other people.
          Matthew 6:6
          “But you, when you pray, enter into your closet and lock your door, and pray to your father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you in public.”

          • I am tired of this inane back and forth. Your arguments are far away from the original point. Christians must remove idols in their lives. Balancing idols is not honoring to God. Those who refuse to worship God with passion may very well worship other gods.

  5. ”If no one knows you are worshipping, how is it fully giving glory to God?”
    God knows.

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