IDOLATRY IN THE YEAR 2015
Today are we faithful Orthodox Christians or modern idolaters like much of the world, that is do we offer worship primarily to the Holy Trinity in the Church of Jesus Christ which is Holy Orthodoxy? Is serving and worshiping the most important thrust of our lives? Does our faith in Jesus Christ dominate our very being? If other things demand our constant attention then our faith is only an appendage to our life, and we must consider this, for if we are not worshiping God in spirit and truth then we are in need of understanding and reestablishing our priorities. It is blasphemous to make God number two to anyone, for there is one God, who is our Creator and Provider who alone is preeminent. But we need to sincerely assess our lives and determine where we stand before God, who will judge every one of us when we leave this world.
Words of a Saint, about 1900 AD
“Idolatry in Christianity consists of self-love, ambition, worldly pleasures, gluttony, love of gain and adultery. It is this that has completely turned away our eyes and hearts from God and His heavenly country and has nailed us to the earth, rendering us to be earthly bound instead of heavenly. It is this (idolatry) that has uprooted brotherly love and has set us against one another. Woe! Woe! unto us!” (St. John of Kronstadt).
St. John is talking about the general condition that existed over 100 years ago which has become even worse of late, because more people have forgotten God and man’s royal destination as members of His heavenly Kingdom. “Blessed is the Kingdom of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever unto ages of ages. Amen.” When we were baptizede we agreed to have Christ as our Savior and King. For Christ the Truth descended from heaven to earth and established His Kingdom in the Church which He founded.
Before Christ’s advent, both the Greeks of the east and the Latins of the west were gripped in the claws of idolatry, not knowing or worshiping the true God. The powerful preaching of the Gospel of the Apostles eventually caused many of them to abandon themselves of pernicious idolatry and embrace the Gospel. This resulted in the destruction of idols and the establishment of Christ’s Kingdom by preaching the Gospel which the Apostles vigorously planted everywhere replacing idolatry which had established prominence in the worldly kingdom of the Devil.
Idolatry is the worship of an image of a person, place or thing as if it were God. If a person consistently venerates something closer to himself than God it then becomes an idol. Idolatry is a great insult and sin against God the Originator and Creator of all things visible and invisible. It is well known that idolatry, and all false religions were also permissive with no restrictions on sin so long as you worshiped the idol. Idolatry can become strongly rooted in the mind and hearts of misled men wherein are also nestled “self-love, ambition, worldly pleasures, gluttony, love of gain and adultery all being companions of idolatry.” Wherever unfortunate men prefer things to the true God, the practice of idolatry darkens their minds with ignorance and foolishness, causing them to be caught up with every type of sin and to live an iniquitous life. Idolatry may not be only something that we deliberately worship as God, for if only our ardent desire for material things is stronger than our desire for God, then we become idolaters.
These things do not mean that we should abandon our family, our work, our business in order top seve only God. All the daily events of our lives can enter into the kingdom of God, and can be of help to us in our efforts. The love of your wives the many things you do for your children, all of your daily work and pain, your worries your tears your sadness or bitterness, all these things, can be cast into the kingdom of God, for all these things have value. What we must remember is that none of these things are goals in themselves, our goal always is the Kingdom of God.
We were created by God in His image with the potential to become like Him, and in this present life we are expected to be engaged in the struggle to become His likeness, for our ultimate destination is to become gods like God. Idolatry always turns our hearts and minds away from the true God and drags us down to the depths of unbelief, sin and iniquity.
The important question is now raised, are we faithful Orthodox Christians or idolaters? To distinguish is vitally important for where we will spend our eternal future depends on our answer. Jesus Christ firmly established that the love of God with all our hearts, all our souls and all our being is the greatest commandment and the second is to love our neighbor as ourselves. These are not choices but commandments and establish our priorities. God is always first and preeminent while everything else is of lesser importance even though they seem to be of greater importance. Yet the truth remains that without God we would not even have our lives and existence. It is God, not man, sustains our lives for it is He who supplies the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, in fact everything. Without God we would not exist and enjoy our intellectual powers and beloved freedom.
We all desire to enjoy happiness and rejoice but these can not be found in material things, but only come from the source of all happiness and joy which is the Lord. It is not only food and drink but everything good is granted to us from God. “Taste the Lord for He is good.” If we find ourselves in idolatry, we must change our attitude and make them useful instead. If they have a grip on us we can reduce them to what they actually are give God the prominence in our lives. Then the things we use and abuse will become more useful and we will appreciate them more when we give thanks to God for His multitude of blessings.