I recently read a newsletter from a friend who is serving as a missionary in a country where Buddhism is the predominant religion. In the newsletter, my friend was recounting a story of going with a neighbor to one of the Buddhist temples where this neighbor worshipped. As I read the story, I found myself thinking, “Thank goodness I’m not like that neighbor! How can they seriously worship something other than God?”
No sooner had that thought passed through my mind than it hit me - I do the same thing. Now, don’t panic and assume I have Buddhist statues set up in my living room with incense burning in front of them - because I don’t. That’s because my idols aren’t made of stone - instead, they’re the things that regularly claim the space in my heart that only God should have. In other words, they are things like financial security, or personal happiness, or relationships, or pride. Those are the types of things that can make their way into my heart to be worshipped, because I let them fill up spots that only God should fill.
And I know I’m not alone in this, because the reality is, worship isn’t something that we only do on Sundays. Instead, it happens to every one of us, every time we put our love for some thing or some one in front of our love for God.
Folks, we cannot get away from the fact that God designed us to be worshipers. That means we have to be really careful about what we give our hearts over to. If it’s not first and foremost God, then it’s going to be something God created. And it happens so quickly, in the small moments of our lives, as we make decisions about how we’re going to live, what we’re going to pursue, and how we’re going to manage the resources God has given us. And when we worship something other than God, it’s just as offensive to Him as the folks who bow down to stone statues in Buddhist temples.
God makes this absolutely clear in Exodus 20:3, where He tells us: “You must not have any other god but me.” He doesn’t say to not put other stone gods before Him - He says to not have ANY OTHER God before Him.
So today, let’s ask God to search our hearts and show us the things and people and situations and desires that we’ve put before Him. And then, let’s confess those things to Him, and ask Him to help us worship Him, and Him alone.