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By: Rev. Dr. Moody Colorado
Superintendent, Pictured Rocks District
Read: John 3:1-17 and Matthew 17:1-9
Is idolatry a sin? If it is, then, America will have to repent of its popular TV Show, The American Idol. The show has produced twenty idols after twenty years of singers competing before the camera. The American audience votes to decide who wins the title. The most popular one is of the music of the church, Carrie Underwood.
Her song, “Jesus take the Wheel,” has become a common phrase in the American language. Somehow, this American Idol has shared her faith around the world through her songs. She has sold over seventy million records around the world. I think that’s not bad at all for the most famous American Idol. I can’t help but observe that the Lord must have really taken the wheel of the life of Carrie Underwood. We may say that idolizing Carrie Underwood runs against our Christian faith but she’s directing everyone to idolize Jesus and who could say that such idolatry is wrong.
Basically, the Heavenly Father has the first claim to every human heart, mind and soul. This is the truth and that’s why Lent is so important. If we don’t contemplate on this, we will be in trouble with God. The commandment was laid down by God in both the doable and the preventative forms:
As we join Jesus in the wilderness in Lenten contemplation, I feel like a monk as I try to imagine trying to enter the gates of heaven like Nicodemus and I am confronted by Peter who scans with an X-Ray vision to probe my heart, “Who or what gods are in there?” My ego, my ideologies, my noble career, my many good accomplishments under my belt as a preacher. How will they fair? I wish I could be sure that these things aren’t idols for the enemy’s side. I’d be happy for the Holy Spirit to break in and take the wheel and use these things to glorify the Lord.
It would be wise to start right to end right in our faith journey. The Nicodemus Story and the Transfiguration of Jesus are paired together for the Second Sunday of Lent. This combination gives us the formula about being born again in the Spirit of God. The key to a Spiritual rebirth was spoken by God, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” For Nicodemus to be able to enter heaven, his heart needs to become pleasing to God. And since Jesus is the one that is pleasing to God, Nicodemus needs to open to the Spirit of Christ to keep listening to Jesus until he becomes Christ-like. All children listen to their parents in their formative years and that’s why their language and manners are father-like or mother-like. We have heard children describing their dads as their hero. Then we hear them talking about their music idols as they grow up. I hope they switch to listening to Jesus to upgrade from parent-like to Christ-like. The church was started by the Holy Spirit precisely to train, and to open avenues wherein someone like Nicodemus could become a Christ-like Servant.
Copying Jesus through the Holy Spirit is the mold for what born again should like. A person needs to open heart to Jesus and the Holy Spirit to dethrone all idols great and small. The church is the best place in knowing what it means to copy what Jesus loved to do. To name a few: Jesus fed, Jesus healed and Jesus saved the lost. Let your church try it and see how you transform the world if every believer’s goal is to feed and heal somebody like Jesus did. Even if you don’t solve the world’s problem, that should help you receive a certificate from Jesus that says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” That certificate Jesus stamps in your heart where Peter can readily scan and give you a quick pass through the gates of heaven.
In trying to copy Jesus to be a God-pleasing Christ-like servant I suddenly feel that I have an idolatry in me that feels for me to be the good kind of idolatry. I believe idolizing Jesus with all heart, mind and soul would be welcome to the Lord. If there is one thing that would set off an alarm in Peter’s Heart Scanner as he probes my heart, I hope that would be my idolatry of JC.