When our culture is considered through the lens of worship and idolatry we see a deeper sin and a greater need for a Savior. This is because everyone everywhere is continually worshiping incorrect things, and idolatry is, sadly, only seen when we examine our hearts deeply. We often have too narrow an understanding of worship and sin and do not see that idolatry empowers our sin and provides the motives for us to sin.
One of the great evils of idolatry is that if we idolize, we must also demonize. Tim Keller reminds us that if we idolize our race, we must demonize other races. If we idolize our gender, we must demonize the other gender. If we idolize our nation, we must demonize other nations. If we idolize our political party, we must demonize other political parties. If we idolize our socioeconomic class, we must demonize other classes. If we idolize our family, we must demonize other families. If we idolize our theological system, we must demonize other theological systems. If we idolize our church, we must demonize other churches.
An understanding of the nature of the Idolatrous heart then not only gives us the ability to see to the motives under the easy to see sins of money, materialism, sex, self-righteousness and power … but it also allows us to see the motives that drive the sins that also are not quite as devastating. It allows us to see the motives behind the sins that turn good things into ultimate things. Our hearts indeed turn easily to other gods.
If we understand this then we begin to have a fighting chance to have “heart based” change and sanctification. We see our need for Jesus … not only in our need to go to heaven…. but we also see our need for a Jesus that changes and grows us. Gods grace on the cross then does not become just an event that gives us a “ticket” for heaven but it also becomes the center of growth and change.
By looking at idolatry, sin, and worship of the heart in a deep way we don’t offer people a “system of redemption” and just some advice that stems from a mound of ideological insight and principals. Change does not come from the mound … it comes from a man. We offer a redeemer that glares at the heart of our idolatry and we finally have a chance at real, lasting change as a result.