Joshua 24:14-15, 23
14 Now obey the Lord and worship him with integrity and loyalty. Put aside the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates and in Egypt and worship the Lord. 15 If you have no desire to worship the Lord, choose today whom you will worship, whether it be the gods whom your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But I and my family will worship the Lord!” 23 Joshua said, “Now put aside the foreign gods that are among you and submit to the Lord God of Israel.”
When I consider the apostasy of willingly, knowingly worshiping a dead god, it is ridiculous to me. I venture to say that there is a disconnect for many of us when we contemplate how it would be possible to serve false gods when God had so clearly shown Himself to be the One true God. Parting the red sea? The ground opening up and fire coming from the sky? Yep! He’s the One true God.
It would seem fairly obvious that an object formed by our own hands is not capable of being all-knowing or saving, but maybe it is not as obvious to us because these gods are among us; interwoven in our culture, possibly not easily recognizable. In fact, it might even be in our own Christian culture that we are worshiping false idols.
How could we be so deceived? The enemy is cunning. An idol cloaked in righteousness would not be easy to discern. If it is our ancestors who laid a foundation of worshiping a false god, it is part of the family dynamic. We do not readily see it, because it is our custom. It might even appear holy or be esteemed by man. The Amorites worshiped many gods, which would likely be obvious to us today, but perhaps less known gods of theirs were glorifying in their own sophistication, power and strength. These became their hidden gods of worship and could be a stumbling block to God’s people if they did not recognize it.
Does the body of Christ have idols that need to be cast down that are not visible to us? I enjoy visiting different denominations within the body of Christ. It occurs to me that each one has its strengths and weaknesses, and perhaps idols. When we begin to worship truth rather than the Giver of all truth, or to worship music rather than the God Who is the Only One with whom we are to delight, we have lost our way. When we boast of our knowledge of doctrine over recognizing our need for compassion when we see a broken person, we have forgotten the purpose of our salvation.
It can be so subtle, but it can be like a noose tightened around the necks of the congregation, who are made to bow down to the culture of the church. We begin to acquiesce to please those around us in their worship style or preferences and forget that our relationship with God is our own. We can begin to be “religiously correct” instead of following the Holy Spirit.
Worshiping false gods is giving glory to anything or anyone other than God. It can be as small as instead of praising one’s appearance, diverting praise of beauty to the One Who gave it. It can be as big as thinking our denomination is “the” denomination, rather than viewing us all as the body of Christ. If we are to worship God with integrity and loyalty, we need to pursue intentionally worshiping Him alone with all sincerity. Worshiping God, we are completely undone and recognize our spiritual poverty. We dare not forget that our righteousness is not our own, but given freely so that we could worship God freely. May we not again become ensnared after so great a salvation.
Oh God, You set us free from religion so we could know You. Please help us to remain in You and to recognize and avoid cultures that infiltrate our gatherings. May we never accept any counterfeit that would draw us away from You.