Friday, June 23, 2017

Tearing Down Idols

It’s one of the “Big 10”; number 2 actually - “You shall not make for yourself an idol . . .” When God gave His Law to Moses, the Israelites were expressly forbidden to make any kind of idol to worship in place of worshiping the real God who had delivered them from Egyptian slavery.

God’s desire was for His people to have a sincere, honest relationship with Him based on truth, not human contrivances. Sadly, the repeated violations of this Commandment were one of the major causes of Israel’s downfall in the Old Testament.

But, what is even sadder is the fact that far too many in America today have failed to learn the bitter lessons that Israel endured due to this Commandment’s violation. I’m especially speaking here of those who profess the Christian faith in the 21st century.

One of the unique distinctions of America was the absolute commitment to equality of all citizens. That’s why the Constitution expressly forbids the bequeathing of any kind of titles of nobility or royalty to anyone in America. As one of the Founding Fathers stated, “Sir, here the people rule.”

This abhorrence of class and privilege was one of the main motivating factors of the American Revolution. It is not surprising that one of the patriotic rallying cries of the Revolution was, “No king in America, except King Jesus.” Those who gave us this nation realized that only God deserved to be over us in reverence and adulation.

Yet, we have abandoned both the Biblical Commandment and the Constitution’s warnings about “creating idols” today; very much to our detriment. In our recent past, there were some who thought John F. Kennedy could do no wrong. He and Jackie became as close to American royalty as we had seen in the 20th century. Now, we know better as history has revealed the very human and imperfect side of “Camelot.”

When Bill Clinton came into office (with Hillary pulling his policy strings behind the scenes), he too, sought to be elevated to a level above the common American. Many obliged, believing his spurious rhetoric (Remember the promised middle-class tax cut that mysteriously became a huge middle-class tax increase after his election?). After that, Bill Clinton’s “feet of clay” only got slipperier and slipperier.

When Barack Obama got elected – the first bi-racial candidate ever elected President - his ego and the expectations of the national media sought to elevate him well above all of the rest of us “average Joes” in America. Once again, millions looked to him as some sort of second-coming.

Well, after the gross mishandling and lies of the Battle of Benghazi and a plethora of other abuses of power, the truth continues to come out about Obama’s corruption and immature petulance.

Yet, in the case of both Clinton and Obama, America’s religious middle and left have tripped over themselves to elevate them both on a pedestal neither of them deserve.

Now, lest you think I’m only attacking the left’s sins here, let’s look at the present situation, shall we? There’s surely enough guilt to go around on the right side of the political spectrum as well.

Enter Donald Trump. The amount of genuflecting many on the Christian right have done in Trump’s presence is equally sickening. When Franklin Graham comes out and publicly proclaims that Trump is right to not disclose his tax returns – something that every other major Presidential candidate has done for the past 40 years – that makes me question Graham’s judgment.

When well-known Christian leaders are as giddy as school girls when President Trump gives them a tour of the White House’s second floor, it makes me question their spiritual temperaments and perspectives.

And, when countless millions of Christians in America are willing to “hear no evil, see no evil, and speak no evil” as far as Trump is concerned, it makes me fear for this nation’s future.

Now, lest you also think I’m simply picking on a Republican candidate I didn’t like, let me just say that I’ve seen the same kind of ongoing irrational loyalty on the part of some of those who support Ted Cruz. There may be hordes of “Trumpsters” out there in America, but there is also a contingent of “Cruz-cuddlers” whose devotion to the Texas Senator borders on idol worship as well.

All of this has only weakened and coarsened this nation. We are more divided than ever. We are more confused about life than ever. When we look to men to save our nation rather than the eternal principles of God, we are asking for a huge disappointment. Our Founding Fathers understood this when they gave us the Constitution as the foundation of our laws; also having bound all government leaders at all levels to obey it. And, despite what secular propagandists might have us swallow, the Constitution was based on centuries of Judeo-Christian law with an unbroken chain right back to Mt. Sinai.

The Christian Church used to be America’s conscience – constraining both society and politicians in their ambitions. But, once the politicians realized that the Christian Church could be bought for a pot of political favors stew, the clear, bold, righteous message of the Church became woefully diluted.

Whether it was FDR buying off the Catholic Church with New Deal subsidies; LBJ enslaving the Civil Rights Movement with Great Society welfare scams; or Trump promising to grant special favors to those religiously faithful to him, the American Church’s “salt” has become polluted and it’s “light” has become greatly dimmed.

The reality is that the Church needs to become America’s conscience once again. To do this, we must be above partisan politics and political party loyalties. We must put our message out there with unvarnished truth and no worries about whose political toes might just get stepped on. (And, please don’t say I’m being “unloving” here. Real love is ALWAYS based on the truth.)

We need to be all about Biblical values, not political favoritism. We need to be loyal to what God commands, not worrying which politician will like us. And, we need to stop apologizing for what we believe just because some millennial “snowflakes” might have their micro aggressions triggered by hearing something they don’t like.

When a particular candidate, government official, and political party hold positions that align with our Biblical perspective on issues, we can and must support them. But, when anyone in government goes against what God has plainly declared, then we must oppose them with all our might.

Now, the pragmatists will protest at this point; after all “politics is the art of compromise” isn’t it? It seems to me that was Aaron’s excuse for building the golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain with God.

Nope. We must stand firm on our principles no matter the cost. We dare not build idols of any kind and expect God to bless us or this land. America’s only hope is a return to God and His eternal principles of morality and civil order. No one else in society can lead this nation back to Him; only the Church has the vision and the numbers to do this.

But, the Church in America cannot be God’s Church if “there are high places in the land.” We must hold equal respect for all of those in authority. But, we must hold all of those in authority to equal accountability for their honesty, competence, and commitment to upholding the Constitution and all of our freedoms. Far too many have forgotten that the Bill of Rights was not given to increase their power. The Bill of Rights was insisted upon as the Constitution’s first ten Amendments to limit their power and insure our God-given freedoms.

It is time to tear down all political idols in America. No one is above the law. No one is due our worship; save God alone. It is only when we are “one nation under God” that we have any hope of survival or future prosperity.

If our ecclesiastical leaders can’t understand this, then it is time to replace them as well. The Church today desperately needs leaders who souls cannot be bought nor their courage stolen from them. In short, we need leaders like Jehoshaphat and Josiah who are willing to tear down the idols and educate the land as to God’s principles for success and freedom.