DISCLAIMER: I wonder if Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, et al. had to post disclaimers before they spoke the word of the LORD. But, they never had to face a world dominated by narcissism and political correctness. Perhaps, I need more courage, for I believe the following is the word of the LORD. Nevertheless, here is my disclaimer. I AM NOT POINTING A FINGER AT ANYONE IN PARTICULAR. I AM NOT SAYING THAT COLLEGE FOOTBALL IS INHERENTLY EVIL. HOWEVER, EVEN GOOD, PLEASURABLE THINGS CAN BECOME IDOLS IN OUR LIVES. I MAY SEE FRUITS OF IDOLATRY IN PEOPLE’S LIVES, BUT I WOULD NEVER CALL THEM OUT INDIVIDUALLY, IN A PUBLIC BLOG. I, too, had a sports idol for a long time before I realized it was an idol. This blog post is not for America in general. I humbly offer the word of the LORD to my brothers and sisters in the Church. It is not meant for condemnation. It is for encouragement. I want to see the Church be the faithful Bride she is called to be. Now on to the story…
Another college football season has begun. With it comes banners on automobiles, smack talk, and countless hours wasted on Saturday afternoons.
A funny thing happened in April 2012 that changed my perspective on college football. The 2012 college Bowl season ended with the Alabama Crimson Tide taking away the national championship. One of the trophies given to the championship football team is the AFCA Coaches’ Trophy. Since 1986 this $30,000 Waterford crystal trophy, in the shape of a football, has been given to the team on top of the Coaches poll at the end of the college football season as “The Symbol of Supremacy in College Football.” Like the tablets of the Ten Commandments, there is even a four-page instruction sheet that establishes the guidelines on how to display the trophy, including “The trophy may not be shown to be broken or shattered, even in simulation.”
Alabama earned the Coaches’ Trophy in 2012.
The Alabama football team annually plays an “A-Day” game after the last session of spring practice. The families of players are invited to attend. The game has evolved into a larger event to include the display of the $30,000 Coaches’ Trophy at the April 2012 game. During the festivities a father of a football player stumbled on the rug underneath the pedestal on which the trophy rested. The crystal idol came crashing down. I love how the sports writer described the scene: “Only shards of Waterford crystal remained by Monday evening.”
That reminded me of the account in I Samuel 5, where the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant from Israel and placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. The next morning their god lay face-down before the Ark. The Philistines had to pick up their god, and stand him up once more. Again, the next day Dagon was found face-down before the Ark. Only this time I Samuel 5:4 states “only the stump of Dagon was left to him.”
In the Bible there are a few examples of Israelite kings serving God but failing to get rid of idols. II Kings 12:2 records Jehoash “did that which was right in the sight of the LORD all his days.” However, the very next verse states “But the high places were not taken away; the people still sacrificed and burned incense in the high places.” His failure to get rid of idol worship turned Jehoash into a moral coward later in his life. As king, he purposed to repair the Temple, but when Hazael, king of Syria, threatened Judah, Jehoash cowardly offered to Hazael the hallowed treasures of the house of the LORD. This blasphemous, sacrilegious bribe only pacified Hazael for a time. (See II Chronicles 24:23 for Hazael’s invasion of Judah.)
This duplicity in worship plagued Israel for a long time. The Assyrian invasion had left much of Samaria, and the rest of the northern kingdom desolate. Foreigners, who knew not God, repopulated the cities of Israel. The LORD sent lions among them to slay them. The Assyrian king commanded that a priest be tasked with instructing the people in “the manner of the God of the land.” A priest came to Bethel and “taught them how they should fear the LORD.” But, these foreigners, like the Israelites before them, retained their idols. “So they feared the LORD, and also made unto themselves of the lowest of them priests of the high places, who sacrificed for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the LORD, and at the same time served their own gods.” II Kings 17:32-33.
That scripture paints the picture of the American Church. We fear God and at the same time serve our own gods, like college football. The next question is: Can you really fear God and worship idols? I’m afraid the answer to that question is “NO.” If we feared God, we would keep his commandments. The first commandment is to have no other gods. How often is it that we are more passionate for other things? Do we pretend that we are more excited about Sunday mornings than Saturday afternoons?
How long will we try to balance our idolatry with the worship of the One, True God? How long will we pretend that college football, Downton Abbey, our families, our careers, our social status are not idols in our lives? How long will idolatry keep us in chains simply because these things “are not inherently evil?” The truth is college football is an evil in our lives, if it steals our passion for God just once.
The time for balancing idolatry is over. El Qanna is a jealous God. Exodus 34:14.
Our approach to idolatry must be like Josiah’s. He didn’t just turn from idols. In II Kings 23 Josiah tore down the idols, the altars, and the high places. He burned them with fire. He stamped them into powder. He cast the powder into the brook Kidron. He restored the right worship of God. He reinstituted the Passover observance. Josiah did not balance idolatry with the worship of God. He turned to the LORD with all his heart, soul, and might. He thoroughly removed idols from his life and worshipped God exclusively. There was no king before or after him that was like him.
That is how thoroughly we need to remove idolatry from our lives.
Our nation is falling apart. Wicked men and women abuse their authority and we do nothing because we are compromised in our worship of God. We have other gods that steal our passion for YAHWEH. We have become moral cowards that hide behind trite religious sayings and misapplications of scripture (like “Turn the other cheek”, “Judge not lest you be judged”, and “Be subject to the higher powers.”)
I am calling on my brothers and sisters in Christ to examine ourselves and to put away idols thoroughly. Let God examine us. Let us have the courage to agree with his assessment of our lives. Let us get our hearts right with God now.
I am calling on the Church to join me and my family on the evening of January 12, 2015 for a solemn assembly. Whether in our homes, or in our churches, let us gather together to pray. Let us prepare our lives beforehand so as we gather, we will be in right standing with God as we assemble. Let our prayers shake the enemies of heaven. Let our cry turn the face of God toward us. Let the Spirit of God fall one more time in America.