I was watching auditions for “The X Factor” on TV a few weeks ago. Near the end of the program, they showed a feature on a young man who is a huge fan of panel judge, Brittany Spears. In his pre-performance interview, he was gushing about the prospect of standing in front of her to be judged. He proudly told the cameras that he loved “everything about her,” and that “no one respected her on a level like I do.” In his estimation, the audition would be like “meeting God.” He even asked the interviewers if he looked like her and quipped that perhaps she was his sister. When it was time for his performance, he entered the stage carrying a dozen long stem roses, and on cue, he launched into his personal rendition of a Brittany Spears’ song coupled with an unusual attempt to copy her dance moves. As you can imagine, it was awkward to watch such a blatant display of hero worship (and bad taste!), but at the same time, it was a startling picture of what modern idolatry looks like.
While few of us would chose to make such a public display of fanaticism, we are nonetheless just as susceptible to the temptation to make idols of people and things around us. Just look at the first few rows of any concert, the stands of a football game, or the throngs of people who clamor after movie stars. People stand in line for hours to catch a glimpse of a star, collect expensive memorabilia, and even attempt to dress like their favorite athlete, actor or musician. Others give their allegiance to more subtle things like nature, money, power or fame. That’s because at our core, we are worshipers. Christians writer C.K. Chesterton noted that “When we cease to worship God, we do not worship nothing. We worship anything.” It’s part of what God created us to do.
Colossians 1:16-17 says “by (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Paul reminds us that …all things… …in all times… …in all places… have their origin and purpose rooted in God Himself. The natural outgrowth of that truth manifests itself in worship. In a right relationship with the Lord, we’ll acknowledge His activity in our lives and thank Him for His goodness. Those who choose to reject the Father still have an inclination to express that inner drive to worship. Without Him at the center of our lives, we’ll become increasingly attracted to a host of other things.
This is why I believe that when God handed down His Law, He put a warning against worshiping other gods at number two on His Top Ten List. He wanted (and wants) us to be careful about where we place our affections because He is the only One worthy of our adoration. He knows that giving our worship to anyone but Him will ultimately destroy us. But that isn’t the only reason He cautions us against making idols. It’s also because we emulate and become like what we worship.
When driving down the expressway, you’ve no doubt found yourself distracted by another vehicle in an adjacent lane with the rear panel covered with an array of stickers. As you focus your attention on the decals to try to read them, it’s easy to find yourself drifting into their lane, isn’t it? That’s essentially what happens in worship. As we focus on the object of our affection, we begin to move toward it. With enough attention (conscious or unconscious), we subtly become like that which we admire. That’s exactly what happened to the young man from the X-Factor. He had studied his music idol so intently that when he got the opportunity to stand in front of millions, as bizarre as it was, he did his best to be just like her, right down to the mimicked dance moves.
People do that all the time, and without even realizing it’s happening, some one, or some thing grabs our attention away from God. For believers, this should be a reminder to “fix our eyes on Jesus” (Heb 12:1-2) and be very careful about where our affections rest. Remember that whatever grasps our attention ultimately determines our direction, and we always want to be moving in the direction of the Lord!!
MUSIC VIDEO: “Made to Worship” – Chris Tomlin