Sports fanaticism & idolatry
“Why do you turn to gods who could not even save their own people from you?” (2 Chronicles 25:15)
It’s been a tough past five days for Minnesota sports fans. The Gopher football team lost to Penn State on Saturday, the Vikings lost to Green Bay on Sunday, the Wild lost to the Capitals on Monday and the Timberwolves lost to Sacramento on Wednesday. Losses are bad enough, but every single one of them was a winnable game. That is frustrating! When I went to bed Wednesday night I was repenting. I had just spent two fruitless hours watching another defeat and wasting valuable time and energy on something I knew ultimately could never satisfy me.
When we read in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, about the worship of idols our eyes gloss over and we relegate such behavior to that of primitive cultures. After all we are far too advanced and sophisticated to fall prey to such foolishness. Right? – Wrong! Idol worship in our modern culture is more rampant than we realize and in all honesty rivals the idol worship of even Hinduism which boast millions of gods.
Let me give you a simple definition of idolatry. It is an excessive devotion to anything other than God. Some synonyms for idolatry are fervor, madness, mania and fanaticism – all words used to describe the actions of those who are avid fans of something. In fact when someone worships something, the natural expression of that worship is the expenditure of time and/or money directed toward it. If the shoe fits, watch out, you may be flirting with idol worship. After a week of sports mania on my part it gives me pause.
Most idol worship, when viewed from a distance is really ludicrous. It is as nonsensical as King Amaziah’s idolatry recorded in 2 Chronicles 25. God had led him into battle against the Edomites and worked a mighty miracle in giving him and the army of Judah the victory. But then Amaziah turns around and brings the Edomite’s idols home with him, setting them up as his gods and bowing down in worship to them. What was he thinking? God sent a prophet to him declaring how foolish he is “Why do you turn to gods who could not even save their own people from you?” (2 Chronicles 25:15)
Amaziah interrupted the prophet and threatened to kill him if he didn’t shut up. What was Amaziah’s problem? Was he attracted to the foreign idols because of their beauty and craftsmanship? If so he should have realized that anything man made certainly cannot be God. (Isaiah 44:15-19) Was it easier for him to worship something tangible that he could see versus something intangible that he could not see? Maybe. Did he like the autonomy of worshipping on his own terms in his own way versus having to follow carefully prescribed patterns of worship? Probably. Did he like being in charge rather than God? Definitely! Did he realize he was actually usurping God’s authority and setting himself up as God? No, but that is exactly what every idol worshipper ultimately is doing.
The first commandment says very clearly, “I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other god’s before Me.” Let us be vigilant in our culture not to become too infatuated with its many man-made gods. Their attractiveness and enjoyment are fickle at best, and always fleeting. Just take it from a Minnesota sports fan.
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