Do a Google image search for “idolatry in America” and the results are interesting. What is idolatry in America?
If we were in many countries around the world today, and I asked a group of Christians that same question, “What is idolatry?” then could walk you out the front doors of the place they were meeting for worship, point down the street to the Hindu temple and say “right down there…they have idols made of wood and metal that they worship.”
Here in the USA we have Hindu temples, as well as other religions that worship idols. In Lancaster, though, those idols are very hard to find. A few years ago I did a ride-along with a local police officer, who wanted to show me some areas in our township where we have section 8 housing that our church might be able to help out with. Just as we were getting into the car, he got a call for a drug bust at a local hotel. After they arrested the suspects, the officer came back to his car where I nervously waited, and he said “Come here, you gotta see this.” With all kinds of police personnel around, I walked into the hotel room and there on the counter was a statue of a Buddha. In Lancaster County I found an idol. Why in the world a couple of small-time drug dealers had an idol in a dingy hotel room, who knows.
But that is rare. I have learned not to be surprised by much anymore, but I would be surprised if I learned that one of you worshiped a statue of an idol in your home. There are, however, many other kinds of idols. And those other kinds of idols might very well be in your homes.
They can be difficult to pinpoint though. But we’re going to try.
A few years ago, I preached a series based on a seminary class, American Idols: Money & Consumerism. I agree that those things could easily be idols. But why? What is idolatry? And is it possible that other things can become idols too? That’s what we’re talking about on Sunday!