Are you serious? Another season of American Idol? Aren’t fifteen seasons enough? Isn’t the Voice, The Four, and the old X Factor plenty? And what about the technologically advanced singing show called “Rising Star,” straight outta Tel Aviv? Oy ve! This relentless search for the American Idol makes me wonder…what it is about our culture that so badly wants to be impressed or entertained?
I remember when I lived in Ireland, the first question some people asked me was, “Who do you support?” I didn’t know how to answer at first; but then I realized my answer was supposed to be a sports team. Literally, one of the first things people wanted to know about me is which football club (professional soccer team) I was a fan of. In their minds, the team I was a fan of said something about my identity and my respectability (or lack thereof). Who I was a fan of would determine whether they would want to further the conversation or end it right there.
In America, we are not quite so forward with this, but it is still woven into the fabric of our society. Are you a Eagles fan, or do you root for the Evil Empire of New England? (Ha ha). Are you on Team Lebron or Team Curry? What kind of music do you listen to: Tupac or Biggie? Paisley or Shelton? Pink Floyd or Led Zeppelin? Coldplay or U2? The answer to these questions can say a lot about who you are, especially if you know who Paisley or Shelton are.
When you put all this together, you can see that we love to be fans. And what society calls being a fan, the Bible calls being a worshipper. This is very important to take note of because, what you behold—you become. Yep. There is it. Beholding is Becoming.
A very thoughtful, helpful, and thorough writer named N.T. Wright says it this way: ”One of the primary laws of human life is that you become like what you worship; what’s more, you reflect what you worship not only to the object itself but also outward to the world around.” For N.T. Wright “worship” is when you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone.
Our society loves to gaze at celebrity-touting magazines, admire entertainment stars, and wonder at extraordinary sports or musical displays. So, the big question is, at what point does it become wrong or unhealthy? At what point does our awe, admiration, and wonder become idolatry? At what point are we worshipping little “g” gods, as opposed to the One true God.
The Bible does not answer this question in a simple phrase or a succinct sentence. Instead, the Bible follows a group of people called the Israelites through all their faithful times and idolatrous times. God was constantly trying to teach His people that truth, holiness, reality, and health all demand that God be the most important, central, and cherished thing in our lives. That God is the Sun that keeps every part of our lives in orbit. If you put anything else in the Sun’s place, you would throw everything off and find chaos, disorder, and damage.
The Bible also teaches us that God loves to be the most important, central, and cherished thing in our lives. In fact, the whole reason He created us finds its answer in this concept: that we would know and enjoy Him forever, even as He knows and enjoys us forever. “Happily ever after” is not a Walt Disney idea—it is God’s.
This Sunday we will be teaching again in the series Beholding and Becoming. The Bible, from start to finish, deals with the weed of idolatry. My hope is that we will discover what idolatry looks like in our day, so that we can avoid its chaos, disorder, and damage.