If it’s so obvious that we ought to be worshiping God, then why do so few people realize that this is the most essential thing? It’s because we have been lied to. From the moment we are born, we are taught that this physical world is all there is. And we feel we need to squeeze out every last drop from this life.
Our parents teach us to be the best in whatever we do, to fight for every point, to out practice our peers in violin and piano. To be number one. So that we can learn discipline. So that we will study hard. So that we can go to a good school. So that we can be a success in this life. So that others will look at us and admire and respect us, and even envy us. And our parents can go to their friends and brag about how great we are.
And as parents, we do the same thing to our kids. The cycle continues. It’s endless. It’s been this way since the dawn of time. Back then, it was the caveman with the biggest club who was the talk of the town. Now, it’s the guy with the largest bank account. Our weapon is our IQ and our business savvy. And for some like Arnold Schwarzenegger or Meg Whitman, it’s not enough to be a celebrity movie star or a CEO of ebay, you have to run for office. Because it’s never enough. The money we amass is never enough. The power we have is never enough. The attention and the adoration of others is never enough.
If the next 60-70-80 years of life is all we have, then go for it. Enjoy every pleasure. Don’t deny yourself any chance to get ahead. Live life to the hilt.
If we are just a cosmic accident and our consciousness just ceases and fades into oblivion when our hearts stop beating, then each person ought to live for whatever they want. Then, there is no ultimate purpose or meaning the universe. Everything is relative and a matter of personal whim.
But every Christian testifies that there is more to life than what we perceive through our sense. There is a spiritual reality and whether we are ready for it or not, one day we will stand before God and we will have to answer to him.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator. ~Rom 1:25
And when we see God face to face, many will realize that they’ve lived a lie. They believed the lie that worship of God was not important but what mattered was that tangible idol that I could touch and see and smell and taste.
Once God is not the most essential thing in our hearts, something or someone occupies that place in our hearts.
Tim Keller in his latest book, Counterfeit Gods —
“The human heart takes good things like a successful career, love, material possessions, even family, and turns them into ultimate things. Our hearts deify them as the center of our lives, because, we think, they can give us significance and security, safety and fulfillment, if we attain them. Thus anything can be an idol and, really, everything has been an idol to one person or another. The great deception of idols is we are prone to think that idols are only bad things. But evil is far more subtle than this. “We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case. The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit god, especially the very best things in life.” What then is an idol? “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. If anything in all the world is more fundamental than God to your happiness, to your meaning in life, then that thing has become an idol. It has supplanted God in your heart and in your affections. You will pursue that thing with an abandon and intensity that should be reserved for God alone.” ~Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods
Idolatry is turning anything, even good things, into ultimate things. And we worship these non-essential things because they promise to give us things that only God is supposed to give us — significance, security, safety, fulfillment — these are God’s domain.
And Tim Keller warns us that the greatest deception is that idols are usually not the blatantly bad things. Few of us will worship the gods of drugs or alcohol. No, it’s going to be the good things of our lives — career, love, material possessions, even our own family can become an idol.
The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes.
What happens when we fall victim to the lie and begin to worship idols, which are often the good things in our lives?
As worshiping beings, when we don’t worship God, 2 things happen. One, Rom 1:21, our thinking becomes futile, or put another way, our hearts become darkened.
And two, Rom 1:28 uses a bit harsher language, it is not just a futile mind, but a depraved mind and this wrong thinking leads to wrong actions, or doing what ought not to be done. And the verses that follow list out some of those wrong actions.