Before we begin to look at specific idols in our lives, we must recognize one thing: we must make a choice. In fact, we will make a choice. There is no opting out. We will either worship the idols of our heart, or we will worship the Lord God. We’ve already established that we worship idols previously in this series. Just because it may not look the same as idol worship of the ancients doesn’t mean we still worship idols such as power, sex, entertainment, success, relationship, etc….
Kyle Idleman points out that Joshua gives the Israelites four categories to choose from (56-66, gods at War):
Gods of our Fathers and Mothers
Gods of Your Past
Gods of Our Culture
We will make our choice. What will yours be?
1. Gods of our Fathers and Mothers (60-62, gods at War)
“The gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River.”
Before the Lord called Abraham to worship Him, he and his parents worshiped the gods of that region. This was, and still is, natural. People worship the gods of their regions and their parents. If you’re born in India into a Hindi family, then you’re most likely going to be a Hindu also. If you’re born in the Middle East into a Muslim family, then you’re probably going to be Muslim. If you’re born in South America, then you’re most likely going to be Roman Catholic. I was born in Texas to a Christian, more specifically a Southern Baptist family. Can you guess what I am? If you guessed a Southern Baptist Christian, then you’re right. We tend to worship the gods our parents worship. Yes, there are those who break the mold. There are plenty of cases where this needs to happen. I obviously believe that Christianity worshiping the One true God is the right religion. It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Southern Baptist, Methodist, or whatever. I’m here to propose and encourage Christianity and worshiping of the Lord God.
It’s more obvious when we worship the gods of our parents when it comes to organized religion, but this is true of our parents’ idols. Idols, as we’ve talked about previously, are what we make more important than the Lord God in our hearts. Again, this can be entertainment, success, sex, power, sports, etc….
So, did your parents worship sports, sex, money, status, beer, careers, shopping, or self-image? Do you worship any of these?
If you worship the Lord because of your parents, then I want to encourage you to claim your faith as your own and not just as your parents’.
It’s natural for us to worship the gods/idols of our parents. Which will you choose?
2. Gods of Your Past (62-64, gods at War)
“The gods your ancestors worshiped…in Egypt.”
The Israelites just came out of slavery in Egypt. They lived there for a few centuries. They picked up of few of their worship habits, and then they brought these gods with them on their way to the Promised Land.
Too often when we become Christians, we bring our old gods with us. Idleman tells a story about stepping in dog poop and tracking it into his date’s home. We’ve all been there. We can all remember a time when we’ve stepped into dog poop and people began smelling it. We began checking shoes and sniffing each other only to realize that we’re the one that brought it in…and there’s a trail of it on the carpet leading from the front door to us. This is what it’s like to track our idols into our relationship with Jesus. We ask the Lord to save and redeem us from our sins, but then we give attention to our idols of our lives before we gave them to Jesus.
It’s hard giving up our old life for Jesus, but the only way we can do it is to give our whole life, heart, and mind to Him. When we go back to our idols, it allows them to keep a grip on our hearts. Scripture compares this to a dog returning to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11). It’s disgusting, but for some reason, dogs like to eat their vomit. Will you return to your vomit?
3. Gods of Our Culture (65-66, gods at War)
“Or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living.”
If the Israelites picked up the worship of the Egyptians in whose land they were slaves for centuries, then they will most likely pick up the worship of the Amorites, Canaanites, etc… whose land they were invading. These new gods had the upper hand because of home field advantage. These new gods were in closer proximity than the gods of Egypt.
We tend to worship the gods we come into contact with more often. This is why I believe that a Christian not active in the church or actively pursuing the Lord through prayer and scripture will end up falling away from their faith. This is why we see people in scripture constantly being told to pursue and worship the Lord God instead of other things.
Our culture is full of gods and idols. Don’t believe me? Turn on your T.V. and watch for at least 30 minutes (your probably won’t even need that long). Did you see the gods of sex, money, and achievement? We don’t realize it because we’re so used to seeing them. Paul tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2). In other words, don’t conform to the worship of this world. Renew your mind by plugging into the Word of God, by praying, and worshiping the Lord God.
Will you worship the Lord God, or will you conform to our culture?
4. God Himself (66-69, gods at War)
“But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Joshua does stack the deck against the other gods for the Lord by describing all that He had done for the Israelites. The Lord had been active in delivering them from Egypt, protecting them, feeding them, and guiding them. It’s no brainer to choose the Lord God compared to the other gods that did nothing for them. Obviously the Israelites responded:
Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great sings in our sight and preserves us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. And the Lord drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God. (Joshua 24:16-18)
They essentially asked, “What did these other gods do for us?” They did nothing for them compared to the wonders the Lord did for the Israelites. Idleman says:
In making your own choice, I would recommend you ask yourself the same. What enduring value has the god of wealth really bought anyone? Did the gods of pleasure ever once deliver true and lasting happiness? What about the gods of sex? Can they provide a joy that is more than that of a passing moment? What have these gods done for us? If anything, they have enslaved us. They have robbed us. They have disappointed us. (66-68, gods at War)
Will you choose the Lord God over the idols in your life? Will you say, “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”, just as Joshua had said?
Idleman, Kyle. Gods at War: Defeating the Idols That Battle for Your Heart. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2013. $15