Sermons

Summary: There are a lot of things that can be idols for us, but only God satisfies. What does it take to put God first, in that place of priority in our lives?

For those of you who have been following Canadian Idol, you’re not going to want to miss tomorrow night. Over the past three weeks we’ve seen the judges narrow the field of contestants from 13,000 all the way down to 143. And by the end of tomorrow’s show, we’ll be left with a mere 30 hopefuls to become the first Canadian Idol. Plus, there are a couple of other incentives to watch tomorrow night. Ruben and Clay from American Idol are suppose to stop by, and the promotion for this episode promises a surprise ending that nobody could predict.

Canadian Idol is, of course, a rip off of the American show, American Idol, which in turn is a rip off of the UK’s Pop Idol. But we’re not alone. Other countries such as South Africa, Poland, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Norway, the pan-Arabic region, France and Finland, have either already crowned their own Idols or are in the process of doing so.

With all these Idols popping up everywhere, I suppose it would be a good idea for us to know what an Idol is. So I checked it out this week in the dictionary. This is what I found:

Idol –

1. A representation or symbol of an object of worship; a false god

2. A likeness of something

3. A form or appearance visible but without substance

4. An object of extreme devotion

5. A false conception

Traditionally, I think this is what we think of as an idol… some object carved out of wood or stone or formed out of precious metals that people would bow down to and worship. And it’s true these were idols. Throughout history and even in a few cultures today you would find people bowing down to these statues.

But here in PEI this seems like an archaic practice. You’re not going to find many people in Charlottetown who have devoted their allegiance and their worship to a stone carving. But not all idols are carved, and you don’t have to set up a little shrine and offer prayers in order to worship them.

I suspect that what Canadian Idol is all about is definition #4. The contestants want to become an object of extreme devotion because of their musical ability. And that’s fine. I enjoy watching the show, and I’ll be watching right through until September 16 when the winner is crowned. In the end at least one young Canadian will have the opportunity to begin a professional music career and the rest of us will have been entertained for a few months. And that that’s all fine and dandy. Really, it’s all pretty harmless.

But there are some Canadian Idols which aren’t quite so harmless.

William Ullathorne said,

“Whatever a man seeks, honours, or exalts more than God, that is the god of his idolatry.”

~ William Ullathorne (a 19th century Benedictine Monk)

So by that definition, what are some Canadian Idols that are worshipped in our society?

PARTICIPATION

(money, power, comfort, approval, achievement, success, sex, sports, fitness, popularity, self, family)

For the most part, in and of themselves these things aren’t evil. In fact, they can be pretty good. But they become a problem… they become an idol… when they become more important in our lives than our relationship with God.

In Mark 12 we read;

Mark 12:28-31 (NLT)

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the discussion. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?"

Jesus replied, "The most important commandment is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these."

So in this short little section we find out what’s really important. We need to love God, and we need to love others. God alone deserves all our praise and our worship and our adoration. We need to love Him above all. And we need to love others as much as we love ourselves. Everything else pales in comparison to these two prime directives.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to talk a bit more specifically about some of these idols which vie for our love and attention. But today what I want to do is this: I want to take just a few minutes to talk about what’s the big deal with idols (what’s so wrong with them), and then we’ll talk about what it takes to put God first in your life.

What’s the problem with Idols?

1. No Idol can completely satisfy

Blaise Pascal was the great 17th-century mathematician who studied vacuums (which would really suck), hydraulics (which could lift his spirits) and it’s highly likely that he studied probability. He described the craving we have to know God this way:

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