One late evening when I was a fairly small boy, my mom loaded me and my siblings into our not-so-trusty, faux-wood paneled family station wagon and took us to a local dairy bar to get some ice cream. At that point in history, there was a small “drinking establishment” located across the street from the dairy bar parking lot. To this day, I don’t know if my mom was purposely trying to give her children a front row seat to witness the follies of mankind (in a vain attempt to point us in a different direction), or if she merely wanted to enjoy her ice cream without having to drive; but, whatever the case, she backed the car into a parking place, giving us a full-on view of the tavern door. So there we were – stuffed in a car, munching on snacks, and waiting for a “show” – almost like family night at the local drive-in.
For the next half hour – until our desserts were gone – we did indeed have some top-notch entertainment. It must have been a Friday or Saturday night because there was quite a lot of foot traffic in and out of the bar. The striking contrast between those walking in and those walking out is what made the whole thing so amusing. The people walking in were straight-postured and composed, but the people “walking” out were quite a different story. We saw men stumble out and slump over a parking meter or car parked along the street as if they were boxers who had just been KO’d. We saw men fall down, get up, fall down, get up…until they were out of sight. And we saw slouching men staggering down the sidewalk as if their legs were intermittently being pulled in opposite directions by two giant, invisible magnets.
Now – and I’m sure I ought to be ashamed of this – everyone in my car (including my mom) laughed uproariously at the spectacle we were witnessing. Being so young, I had barely even heard of alcohol, much less knew of its effects on people. That being the case, the event was especially hilarious to me because I had no idea why these normal-looking grown men were suddenly (and seemingly inexplicably) acting like clowns & Neanderthals.
What I witnessed that night was a crystal-clear depiction, not only of modern-day idol worship (as we’ve been discussing recently at Revolution), but also the effects of it on the human “worshipers” themselves. Think about it. These normal-looking fellows (“worshipers”) would walk into their “temple” (tavern) with a steady stride, but after a prolonged period of “worship” (drinking) at the “altar” (bar) they would emerge from the “temple” disoriented, insensible and even physically impaired.
Though this is a more obvious illustration than most, all forms of idolatry eventually distort and impair the idol worshiper in various destructive ways. The pleasure worshiper winds up dissolute, debauched and insensitive to the very feelings of pleasure that they once worshiped. The worshiper of comfort & security becomes stingy, fearful and self-concerned. And the list goes on…
We were made in God’s image to worship God alone. To worship anyone or anything else is to condemn ourselves to slowly becoming as hollow & worthless as the false idols we’re worshipping. We drift from “made in the image of God” and wind up as spiritual “clowns & Neanderthals”. Truly does Paul instruct us, “My dear friends, flee from idolatry!” (1Co 10:14)
Worship – Grow – Serve