On Social Media, Preachers, and Jennifer Aniston

Most of us assume the topic of idol worship is irrelevant to our lives because, seriously, who is carving idols these days? We shake our heads at the Golden Calf episode [Exodus 32], amazed at the silliness of worshiping such a thing.

But here’s the thing about the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf: this was something happening in the nations surrounding the people of God. So it actually “fit” the spirit of the day. Beyond this, though, the calf was something the Israelites could SEE and TOUCH, whereas God was invisible. He couldn’t be detected with the five senses the way the calf could.

When reduced to this core issue, idol worship suddenly becomes relevant to each of us here and now. For how many times a day are we invited to cling to what we can SEE rather than to the Lord who is unseen?

In social media world, the invitation is to attach too much value to pictures, likes, comments, and numbers – all things we can see. They feel like some sort of proof, like something that can be measured. It’s a counterfeit because the measure of our lives is rooted in the invisible realm [ie who we are in Christ].

In church world, the invitation is to attach too much value to pastors and speakers. Again, we can SEE them and the gift of God at work through them. So too often, we unknowingly set them on a pedestal, channeling our worship toward them [what is seen] rather than to the One empowering them [the Lord, who is unseen].

In the realm of physical beauty, the invitation is to worship whatever is beautiful [what is seen] rather than the Creator of all that is beautiful [who is unseen]. This is one of the driving forces behind celebrity worship. Take Jennifer Aniston, for example [there are many names that could be inserted here]. The magnitude of attention surrounding this human being is astounding. Yes, she is beautiful. Stunning even. But such craftsmanship ought to point us back to the One who does the crafting: God Himself. Sadly, most of the world misses this and instead channels its worship toward the beauty rather than the Creator of the beauty.

Golden calves don’t offer much temptation these days, but idol worship is as present today as it has ever been. Each day, we are beckoned with invitations from both the seen and the Unseen. My prayer is that our hearts grow more and more inclined to cling to the Invisible One and to set what is seen in its proper place.

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