Anybody Got a Silver Bullet?
Werewolves are outside of our house, savagely scratching at the doors and windows. My older brother Andy and I hastily barricade ourselves in our bedroom. Two young kids can survive this terror only by sticking together. The one thing that gives me comfort is that Andy is with me. At this moment he’s no longer my annoying older brother, bullying me, teasing me; he’s now my hero. We frantically work to insulate ourselves in our room, when the sounds of the werewolves suddenly cease. My heart is pounding like a jackhammer, but I’m beginning to feel some relief. I turn to Andy, hoping that he too thinks we’re safe when . . . Have you guessed it? Yeah, he’s turned into a werewolf, and he looks really hungry.
This was an actual recurring nightmare that haunted my childhood for years. I think the reason it so unnerved me was the unfairness of it. Sure, a kid expects to be torn apart by ferocious monsters that live outside in the woods or a cave or a pit. But it just doesn’t seem right that the monsters can live in your own house—or be your own brother!
I think the reason idolatry gets so little attention today is that we are not truly convinced that it is something that’s “inside the house.” Like we saw in the last chapter, idolatry is something we think happens only in the jungle or in remote villages in developing nations. Idolatry is the stuff of National Geographic—not USA Today.
Sadly, most of today’s spiritual diagnosticians do not include idolatry in the list of maladies threatening the church’s health. Several other problems have been identified: declining church membership, unwholesome relationships, dysfunctional families, pornography—and the list goes on and on. But rarely, if ever, do we hear about our insatiable desire to trade in God for anything and everything. Whatever happened to idolatry? Frankly, we shouldn’t be surprised that we so often feel immune to idolatry. The Scriptures warned us how easily we can be duped.
Matthew 16:6 (NIV) “Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
Mark 13:23 (NIV) So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.
Luke 12:15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness. . .”
Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit . . . (emphases added in preceding verses).
P. T. Barnum allegedly said, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and the Bible seems to agree. We are people who can be easily swindled. This is why the writer of Hebrews warns the church about the way sin works: “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (3:13).
Sin—idolatry in particular—is not a showboat. It does its best work in subtle ways. Like a puma lying low in the gentle grass, taut muscles held in place like a coiled spring, sin waits in the “safest” of places. If someone approached you and said, “Hey, I’ve got a bag full of idol statues. Would you like to trade Christ in for one of these?” then idolatry would be a pretty easy thing to resist. But remember what Ezekiel said: The capacity for idol worship is alive and well in our hearts. Sin knows this, so it waits patiently for a chance to creep in unaware. Consider the famous plight of the Israelites in their departure from Egypt.
Taken from You Are the Treasure That I Seek
©2009 by Greg Dutcher