Right now in my “One Year Bible”, I find myself in 1 Kings. Over and over again, it amazes me to see the people of Israel, knowing very well the God they serve, choose to serve Baal instead. I mean, truth be told, this has been happening since Deuteronomy, but it seems to hit a peak in 1 Kings. No matter how many prophets God sends, the people are still so attached to their “false gods” that they reject the living God Himself. Even after He brings fire from the sky, and the people are terrified and say “The Lord, He is God!” (1 Kings 18:39), they still eventually forget about that ever happening (how do you forget that?!) and go back to their false gods.
While I am tempted to think “Oh, stupid Israelites! How on earth could you abandon the God that has done so much for you?“, I find that I myself have had times where modern-day “golden calves” have attracted my attention more than the Lord that rules over all. And the Church? They too have done the same. I think we all have times in our lives where we have let sins creep in. For some of us, they are small and secret and not always widely known. For others, they lead to a downward spiral that becomes obvious. While sins are an obvious “golden calf”, there are some less obvious ones that also can glitter so brightly, they take our eyes off of our Lord.
These are just some examples:
- Politics (usually the GOP, but applies to Democrats, Libertarians, and any other political party): (As Matt Chandler would say, don’t email me. Hear me out before you get offended and hit that little “X” in the corner to close the window). I used to be Republican. I was a Republican for about 20 years of my life. I only watched Fox News and Glenn Beck. I get it. I thought Democrats were all demons or heretics and couldn’t possibly know Christ. I really do get it. But there is a difference between being a Republican (just because you agree with them on policy) and finding your identity in being a Republican. And the same goes for Democrats, Libertarians, etc. I know so many Christians that talk more about how “taxation is theft” than they do Jesus. They are known for being Libertarian, not for being Christ-like. I’m not saying they’re not saved or don’t know Jesus, but to strangers, they are known as “my Libertarian friend”, not “my friend who is Christian”. American Politics are an American thing, not a Christian thing. You understand that martyrs for Christ on the other side of the world don’t call themselves Republicans or Democrats, right? They don’t pray that America becomes more Republican ruled or more Democrat ruled. Instead, they pray for the people, that they may know Christ and bring Him glory. The biggest golden calf I see today is our partisanship. It’s okay to like politics (I love politics and I love debating, in love, with people), but it’s not okay to call other brothers and sisters in the faith “demons” because they don’t agree with you. YES, there are Christians who are Democrats. And YES, there are Christians who are Republicans. American politics are important, but they will not outlast the Earth. The Bride of Christ will live for eternity. Which one has more value to you?
- Religion (and by this, I mean religious traditions more than religion itself): While I do mean religions like Catholicism that add something to the requirements for salvation that shouldn’t be there, I also mean adhering to things like “guitars are from Satan and shouldn’t be used in music“. I mean things like “if you’re not a Calvinist, you’re not saved” (I was guilty of worshipping that golden cow for a while). The Word of God is clear in some things, and we should always defend Biblical truth, but there are “close-handed issues” (“Who is Jesus?”) and there are “open-handed issues” (“Should I only wear skirts or can I also wear pants?”). Using the same zeal for the later that you would normally reserve for the former is wrong. Let me say that again: Treating someone’s decision to wear skirts (or not wear skirts), like you would treat their decision to say “Jesus isn’t God” is WRONG. Some Christians drink. Some Christians don’t. Personally, I fall into the “one drink maybe once or twice a year” category. I don’t shame the Christians that have a beer with dinner every so often, nor do I shame the ones that don’t drink. My husband doesn’t drink at all. I am a strong believer in Calvinism. It gave me a lens to view God in a way I never could. It made Grace that much sweeter for me. But for me to say someone who doesn’t believe in election (or, at the very least, believes “free will” and “election” co-exist) automatically isn’t saved is ridiculous. Shall we call on the name of Jesus Christ for salvation or should we call on John Calvin? Whose words do you treasure more?
- Reputation: This one is pretty straight forward and to the point. Sometimes, Christians will avoid being associated with “certain people” because they value their reputation more than they value the Word of God. They worship themselves over worshipping the Creator of the Universe. Case in point, a brother or sister committed a “big sin”. All of sudden, all those church friends suddenly are “too busy” to hang out. If they see them in church, they either don’t say “hello” or they make sure they aren’t seen saying “hello” (and this happened to me, so I know it happens). I could write a whole blog post on this alone, but to put it simply, make sure you aren’t valuing yourself over the Word of God. Jesus didn’t condemn. What makes you think you have the right to condemn? Point out sins (in love), yes. Win back your brothers and sisters, yes. But condemn? If you are without sin, go ahead and “throw the stone”, but if you are without sin, you wouldn’t need Jesus in the first place.
- Race: This is a hard one to write. I really want to argue that some who value their race over Christ aren’t Christian to begin with, but perhaps this applies more to ignorance of racial tensions than it does those who are in the “White Supremacy” movement (the Alt-Right). While I would recommend that every Christian watch this sermon by Matt Chandler on the issue of Racial Reconciliation, I’d like to take a couple of his points (because most won’t watch it). If you are a Christian, then you should believe in the story of Creation; Being that we all came from Adam and Eve. That said…how, in any sense of logical thinking, could you look at someone of a different skin color and say “they are inferior to me?“. I’ve known people who profess Christ who have said things like this! Where is the logic in that statement? I do believe in Adam and Eve. I do believe we came from the same two earthly parents. How, then, is my African brother different from me? How is my Italian brother different from me? How are my Indian brothers, Chinese brothers, Australian brothers, Canadian brothers, Puerto Rican brothers, Brazilian brothers, etc, different from me? We are all the same, human beings made in the image of God. For example, the death of an African-American brother should pain and burden you the same way the death of someone of your own race would. If it doesn’t, this is the point that you need to admit to worshipping the “golden cow” of race and repent. Right now. Heaven will be filled with every race, nation, tongue and dialect. If that’s something you’re not comfortable with for all eternity, maybe it’s because you don’t know that God that made this so. And that, my friends, is a much bigger problem.
There are many other types of “golden calves” that we worship, but may it not be so, brothers and sisters! May we pray tonight for God to reveal to us the pagan gods of our lives and may we repent and seek guidance in those areas that we are weak. May our full focus, attention, and devotion be on the Lord, the Creator of All. May He receive all the glory and all the praise forever.
Grace & Peace.