What is sin? Bad stuff the devil traps us in, right? WRONG! Sin isn’t simply some bad thing we’ve been trapped in. Sin is the perversion of a good thing God has given us to enjoy: gluttony is a perversion of sustenance, sloth the perversion of Sabbath (or rest), avarice the perversion of security, etc.. Idolatry on the other hand, isn’t so much the perversion of a good thing we’ve been given, but improperly prioritizing such things. When we equate, or even elevate, the creation to the level of the creator, then we have entered a realm of idolatry.
Does it not stand to reason that we could pervert or improperly prioritize any of the good gifts that God has given us? It’s all too easy for us to forget a few things when we are identifying sin and idols! It is especially dangerous when we attribute a list of perceived sin and idols to others as opposed to looking within. I do believe I read something about a plank and a speck somewhere.
What about the Bible? What are we caught up in? Are we caught up in a book, in a specific translation of said book, or the One whom the book reveals? “Bibliolatry” is a very real thing even though it’s on very few of our radars.
What about worship? Who, truly, is the focus of your worship? All too often, we like to fool ourselves into thinking it’s God when in reality its ourselves. Is it not possible that we create idols when we pursue our own desires and sentimentality in our worship?
If we’re not careful, we all too quickly can disorder even the best of things. This is why, in C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, Screwtape (a demon master) writes Wormwood (a demon apprentice) with the advice, “It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick, Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one— the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”
As we begin to rebuild our lives, as a community, let us pay attention to the gradual, gentle moments where we have perverted or improperly prioritized even the best gifts we’ve been given. It is beyond time that the church begins looking for the milestones and signposts that inform us about whether we’re on the right track or not. Let us set aside our desires and our sentimentality in order that we may worship the One who is worthy of our praise, rather than worshiping ourselves.
Nicholas Hopkins, Minister of Music