As we study ancient Greek mythology, we discover that there were many Greek gods and goddesses but the most important were the twelve Olympians, namely: Zeus, Poseidon, Hades, Ares, Apollo, Hermes, Dionysus, Artemis, Hera, Aphrodite, Athena and Demeter. If you think 12 gods is awkward, try understanding Hinduism claiming 33 million gods. Although, the list of polytheistic religions isn’t limited to the Greeks and Hindus. For instance, polytheism is known also by Mahayana Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, as well as contemporary tribal religions in Africa and the Americas. We, so called monotheists might wonder, how do the people who practice these religions juggle their gods? It doesn’t seem possible or even realistic does it. It certainly seems very impersonal. However, maybe an even more important and deeply introspective question is, how do you juggle your gods?
What? I know. I know. We claim that we are monotheistic. I’m sure that most of us are even adamant about worshiping the one and only God in three persons. But let me caution all of us. Yes, we should exclusively worship the one and only God, Jehovah, as the scriptures say:
EX 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
EX 34:14 for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God,
DT 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
However, based on the definition of idolatry, “extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone,” isn’t it even remotely possible that we worship other things or people even though we claim there is only one God? I realize that our idolatry may not be a formally recognized religion and our gods may not be among the gods formally recognized in a book documenting the religions of the world, but we, in fact, are in constant danger of worshiping these gods whether it be money, power, job, position, family, money, wealth, sport, sex, drugs, alcohol, possessions, recreational activities or self. Just to name a few possibilities.
What has happened to us and the church? On the one hand, we say that we worship Jehovah alone. Along with that, we may even worship in honor of Jesus and read our Bible and give financially toward the local ministry. A few of us may even go as far as to serve in the ministry of the local church. But, on the other hand, as evidence of also worshipping false gods, our heart is at the lake, at the stadium, at the park, at the course, at the lake, at the barn, at the camp site or at the job site. So, just to make sure we are tracking, let me say that it is entirely possible that we say we love God, and believe that we’re only worshiping the one true God, but in reality, worship many false gods. In fact, the Bible, the Holy Word of God, warns us against idolatry of any sort.
PS 135:15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. 16 They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; 17 they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. 18 Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them.
Let me go back to the questions I asked in the beginning. How do you juggle your gods? In case you haven’t discovered this already, you might attempt to juggle a handful of false gods but don’t be deceived. Jesus doesn’t juggle. In the event that you’ve forgotten who Jesus is, let me share a small sample.
JN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it . . . 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
REV 19:11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.
God is personal. He is real. He speaks and listens. He loves and has compassion. He gives life and sustains it. He created the universe full of planets and stars. He even gets angry and disciplines those He loves. And with all of that, He knows you personally even to the exact number of hairs on your head. So, stop juggling the false substitutes. Put them down and walk away. Instead, fall on your face and worship the one true God.
A Work in Progress,