The Gods We Worship Show Us What We Treasure

Tim Challies has some good observations on the pervasive idolatry of our culture, such as that was exhibited yesterday, that makes us no different than the worshippers of many gods in a country like India:

The Idolatry of Pluralism

The Idolatry of Pluralism

Jackson’s service was an representation of just the kind of pluralism that has marked India. Everybody involved wanted to invoke God’s name, as you’re supposed to do when remembering a loved one, but it was clear that most of them invoked a god made in their own image. Even those who spoke of Jesus or who prayed to Jesus did so without any clear reference to the Jesus of the Bible. They spoke of a Jesus who accepts all and even (or perhaps especially) those who had rejected him. Never did Michael Jackson give any evidence of putting his faith in Jesus Christ, yet those who watched were assured, time and again, that he was now safe in the presence of the Lord, waiting there for the rest of us to arrive. Words and phrases invoked God and used the Christian lexicon but without any reference to the gospel, the true gospel, the gospel that saves. Lost men declared to other lost men untruths about the god they wish for, not the God who is.

During the singing of the old song We Are the World, those who watched saw religious symbols from all faiths spinning across a video screen, blurring, blending their lies to the already blind.

All faiths are the same, don’t you know? Why dwell on such petty distinctions? God is whoever you want him (or her or it) to be. We are the world. We are god.

What surprised me more than anything was the genuine grief, the genuine mourning, of those who attended the memorial service. Of course his brothers and sister and daughter were distraught, but so too were many of the fans who so loved him. On the radio I heard an interview with a woman from Toronto who attended a screening of the service. She told how when she heard of Jackson’s death she collapsed and was inconsolable, at least until she could go to a tattoo parlor and have “Gone too soon” tattooed onto her body; that was the beginning of the healing process. She had brought her young son to the memorial service so he could see his mother’s love for this man she so venerated. All across North America, all across the world, there are similar stories of worship. Can we call it anything other than worship? I don’t think this is too strong a word. For many people, Jackson was a god; for many people celebrity is idolatry.

Yesterday we saw idolatry of a whole different order yet idolatry that is so similar to what I saw in The Story of India. There are some who, in their idolatry, bow low before gods of wood and stone and burnished bronze. There are others who, in their idolatry, live vicariously through celebrities and who bow low before the spirit of the age. Michael Jackson’s funeral, where God’s name was invoked and where Jesus’ name was supposedly held high, was as vivid an expression of idolatry as was the footage of hordes of Indian Hindus dancing with joy and veneration before their statues. One is a base idolatry, the other is sophisticated and proper. Both are the same ancient sin, the same ancient rebellion against the one true God.

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