The above photo is a somewhat typical rendering of what some hold to be the image of Jesus. Honestly, it’s the typical none realistic “white Jesus” that has, in my opinion, given many an inaccurate view of what Jesus was really like. I’m convinced Jesus looked nothing like this, as many others are too. (By the way, I’m not picking on the source of this picture by using it–but simply want to use it to get you thinking with me).
What is that point? It’s the unfortunate truth that by many who consider themselves to be Christians, Jesus, at times, is merely an idol. I know, that’s a huge accusation but let me take a few lines to break down what an idol is.
A good definition of an idol, especially for those who consider themselves Christians is this: anything that takes the place of God is my life for comfort, provision, security, hope, peace, or any other need that I may have. Christians should, and can, rely on God alone for these things. Anything we look to other than God for any need is simply an idol.
But, there’s a another important definition of idol that, unfortunately, is something that Jesus has become in many Christian’s lives today. I can describe an idol by how an idol is treated by it’s worshippers and thus reach another definition.
In all of the history of the idols of the world, idols are treated in a very distinct way by their worshippers. How are idols treated? The worshippers only come to them when they need something.
You see, there are all kinds of idols. Idols that are worshiped for the hope of raising healthy, plentiful crops. Idols that are worshiped in hopes the god will give rain instead of drought. Idols that are looked to for fertility so babies will come for those who want them. And, when these needs are plentiful worship is ascribed to the tiny, mute, inept gods.
In times when the seeds are sown, the cisterns run low, and the pregnancy hasn’t come the idol is prayed to, appeased, and given sacrifices in the hopes the god will respond and bless. But, when the crops are harvested in plenty, the cisterns are full and babies are born, worship to the corresponding idol ceases. The idol is placed on the shelf for safe keeping until another need arises. Idols are only as good as the need. Of course, idols really have no value at all.
Unfortunately, many people who claim to know Jesus and call themselves followers of Him will set Him on the shelf this Lord’s Day for something far less–practically treating Him as an idol. By the way, anything in comparison to Jesus is just that–far less.
Here’s the truth: Jesus is not an idol. Profound, right?
But, all across American Christianity this Sunday, Jesus the idol will be placed on the shelf. It will happen in most, if not all churches including the church I pastor just as it happened last weekend. All across America people will place Jesus to the side while they pursue something “less” and miss the fact that He’s called them to something more.
Every person who calls themselves a Christian has been called to worship, serve and give Jesus Christ the honor He is due this Sunday–on the Lord’s Day. Every person who calls themselves a Christian is called to this in the context of the local gathering of believers into which that believer has been placed. Every Christian is called to follow Jesus exclusively, not simply because of what He may provide but because of who He is. Every Christian is called to worship Jesus faithfully, in the local context of faith family (church) to which He’s called you; not when it’s convenient, not when you feel like it, and not when you have nothing else to do. Jesus is not an idol. Are you planning to treat Him like one?
Is Jesus an idol sitting on the shelf, or is He everlasting God who loves you and has called you to greater life in Him and only Him? If he’s the latter, He is worthy of the devotion of your worship. Not because or when it’s convenient. Not when you have nothing else to do, but because “in Him [is] life and the life [is] the light of men.” John 1:4
Search you heart. If Jesus is an idol–make Him God in your life. That’s who He is in truth.