By Femi Aribisala
Most Christian idol-worshipers are offended when referred to as idol-worshipers. We know it is forbidden to worship idols but nevertheless worship idols while convincing ourselves that we do not. But God cannot be mocked. An idol is that thing that steals our hearts from God.
Worship of man-made goods
In our conceit, the work of our hands have become our objects of worship. We are so impressed with the things man has made, we spend several hours every day in their devotion and adoration. A colleague of my wife’s once boasted that: “I cannot live without my cell-phone!” Little did she realise that the cell-phone has become a god to her because whatever we believe we cannot live without automatically becomes our god.
Thus, if you are at a prayer-meeting and someone’s cell-phone rings; don’t be surprised if the person immediately dashes out to answer the call. Definitely, that means the person at the other end of the line must be more important than God.
God says: “My son, give me your heart.” (Proverbs 23:26). The psalmist says: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:1-2).
But today, our souls pants for the television so we can watch Premier League football or Zee-world. We pant for the internet so we can spend hours on Facebook and Instagram. We pant for video games so we can spend hours on the latest version of Super Mario and Street Fighter. We yearn to acquire Jeeps and deluxe cars.
Mariolatry: worship of Mary
Over a billion Catholics all over the world worship Mary, the mother of Jesus. This worship has no scriptural foundation whatsoever and is idol worship pure and simple. Catholics pray to Mary, making her an intermediary between God and man, even though the scriptures say different: “There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5).
All sorts of highly dubious traditions of men have been built around the veneration of Mary, based upon fictitious extra-biblical foundations. One of these, the doctrine of the immaculate conception, states that when Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb, the Holy Spirit came and exchanged her blood with one completely sinless. This means, like Jesus, Mary is presumed to have lived a sinless life.
It is also claimed that Mary did not die but is “assumed” to have ascended bodily to heaven. In effect, Mary worshipers: “exchange the truth of God for a lie, and worship and serve created things rather than the Creator.” (Romans 1:25).
Beyond giving birth to Jesus, there is no prophecy concerning Mary or the veneration or worship of Mary. Mary was an ordinary woman. She has no power to intercede for us or to connect us to God. She cannot heal or hear our prayers. She is not a Mediatrix, Co-redemptrix, Cause of Our Salvation, Most Holy Mother of God, Our Immaculate Lady, Queen of Heaven and other highfalutin titles conferred on her by men.
God says: “Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2). I repeat, nowhere in the scriptures is there any hint of instruction that we should venerate or worship Mary.
Therefore, the question Jesus posed to some Pharisees and teachers of the law should now be directed at today’s Mary worshippers: “Why do you transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition?” (Matthew 15:3). Singing hymns to Mary, praying to her, kissing her picture, parading her image through the streets and bowing down before her statue is nothing but idol worship.
Worship of the rich and the powerful
When we give too much regard to the rich and the powerful, they become objects of worship. We bow down before them, hang on their every word and even give them names exclusively applicable to God. When we do this, we forget that God is a jealous God who does not share his glory with mere mortals.
This is what led to the premature death of Herod: “On a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne and gave an oration to them. And the people kept shouting, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ Then immediately an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give glory to God. And he was eaten by worms and died.” (Acts 12:21-23).
When we worship men instead of God, we are unable to see the glory of God. This is presumably what happened to Isaiah who says: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). It would appear that Uzziah was a mountain blocking Isaiah from seeing the Lord Jesus. He was only able to do so after King Uzziah died.
Having learnt his lesson, Isaiah counsels God-seekers in the scriptures: “Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; (then) the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.” (Isaiah 40:3-5).
For the glory of God to be revealed in the lives of those who worship the Lord in spirit and in truth, only the Lord must be exalted: “The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11).
Worship of fears
What do you fear? God is “the Fear of Isaac.” (Genesis 31:42). He must be our one and only fear. Whatever you fear is your god. Whatever you fear threatens an idol god in your life. If you are afraid of poverty, wealth is your god. If you are afraid of death, life is your god. If you are afraid of being unmarried, marriage is your god.
“The Lord spoke to me with his strong hand upon me, warning me not to follow the way of this people. He said: ‘Do not call conspiracy everything that these people call conspiracy; do not fear what they fear, and do not dread it. The Lord Almighty is the one you are to regard as holy, he is the one you are to fear, he is the one you are to dread.’” (Isaiah 8:11-13).
Fears often end up as self-fulfilling prophecies. Thus Job lamented: “The thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25). The spirit of fear is a spirit of bondage. (Romans 8:15). But the Spirit of God is the spirit of liberty. (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Therefore, we are counseled to: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).