When I go to eat at one of the local Chinese restaurants in my city, a statue of Buddha can be seen perched near the front door. This pagan idol shows the allegiance of the business owners. It presents to their patrons that in which they trust. Sadly, their statue also proclaims they are still in bondage to sin, in allegiance with the dark side, and at enmity with God. My very hard working neighbors are missing the delight of being united with Jesus Christ and adopted by the Heavenly Father. They have passed on enjoying a relationship with the Prince of Peace and are giving faith, honor, glory, and worship to a dead obese man.
Similar idolatry can occur when a teenager enters the mall, when a fitness junky visits the gym, when the businessman drives down the motor-mile, when the single individual logs on to Match.com, when a soccer mom selects and adorns her house, or when a political activist looks with longing at his or her favorite candidate. Clothes, shoes, health, muscles, fine driving machines, spouses, homes, furniture, and excellent candidates are not sinful; as a matter of fact they are good gifts of God. However, when one trusts in these things to satisfy, save, and provide meaning in life, they prove their hearts are in the wrong place. Even though they may worship Jesus Christ in church on Sunday, they are giving faith, honor, glory, and worship to dead and obese things.
As a minister, believe it or not, the church can be my Buddha; it can be my dead and obese idol of choice. The temptation is always before me to over-value increased membership, happy and unified elders, more and better facilities, additional staff, fantastic programs, theological degrees, blog readership stats, church fame, personal notoriety, hearing people praise my ministerial skills, and receiving a larger salary. Yes, sadly, all these things are like heroine to my heart. If I am not careful, I give faith, honor, glory, and worship to the church of Christ and not the Christ of the church. I worship the gifts and not the Giver, and then I whine when the Giver takes away a few of his gifts. And friends, my Jealous Father is so saddened by my idolatrous affections. As a matter of fact, God is probably more saddened over my Presbyterian idolatry than he is over that of my pagan neighbors.