Article 07 | Idolatry
People care more about who their doctor is today than about who their priest or minister is. Most Christians live lives of practical atheism. … Atheism isn’t explicitly a denial of God it’s to live in a way that God does not matter.
What forces, powers, and daily habits make us most unfaithful to Jesus?
Is there a Buddha in your favorite sushi restaurant?
Discipleship, is about patterning our lives after Jesus, which leads to the transformation of our character by God’s grace and our choices. Consequently, it must be seen and experienced above all other competing claims for our loyalty and allegiance.
In our host country of the United States, religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and New Age, are increasingly woven into popular culture and manifest themselves in different ways depending upon the context. However a more idolatrous threat to our faith comes from materialism and consumerism. Alan Hirsch and others have articulated the point well that the power of consumerism is in many ways more dangerous than other idols because of it’s subtlety and pervasiveness.
In accord with that blindness, the presentation of a Christian alternative to the phenomenon of consumerism has been largely been absent. The use of the word “phenomenon” is intentional as it echoes others and their insights. Their chief insight being, the reality of modern consumerism is that it has all the explicit and important elements of a religion.
What does it mean for modern consumerism to act like a religion? It means that it intentionally attempts to provide people with an identity, a meaning and a purpose for their lives, and with it a community to belong to.
As a community working with God in our transformation into the character of Jesus, we need to have the courage to identify the idols that hinder our obedience to Christ. After all, as Stanley Hauerwas says, “being able to name our sin is a major theological accomplishment.” To avoid this self examination and set aside the very real temptations and challenges that consumerism presents to us, leaves us in a dangerous place where we’re increasingly subject to our own desires and habits.
Recommended Reading: The Forgotten Ways by Alan Hirsch, An Agenda For A Biblical People by Jim Wallis, Renovation of the Heart by Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard.