Flirtations With False Gods
"Everybody's got a
Everybody's got a
Lay down your money
and play your part
Everybody's got a
“Everybody’s got a hungry heart…” When he penned those words the poet laureate of New Jersey and Kennedy Center honoree sounded prophetic because everybody does have a hungry heart. There is a hollow place within that aches for purpose and direction.
Whether it is recognized or acknowledged, our hearts can only be fed by God, but pride and hubris clogs up our reasoning. We reject the holy and righteous God of Scripture, so attempt to fill the void by worshiping gods of our own creation; we seek hope and meaning from flawed sources.
Much like Ponce de Leon’s fruitless quest for the mythical fountain of youth, humanity is on a bankrupt pilgrimage to discover peace in a barren wasteland. On a societal basis we routinely bow down to the idols of consumerism, convenience and celebrity.
The mantra of consumerism is manifested in our breakneck rush to accumulate possessions on top of possessions on top of possessions. Enough never seems to be enough so people scrimp, save and forfeit relationships to purchase trinkets and things that will be discarded, or to drive the latest flashy model whose final destiny will be a scrapheap.
Stress and tension dominates many homes because the false god of consumerism demands its tithe of debt, debt, debt. To keep up culturally-correct appearances people maintain a debt-ridden lifestyle that inflates their ego and makes them feel important.
False gods have no mercy so it is incredibly easy to be devoured by consumerism. We can be consumed by our conspicuous consumption; we invest our time, energy and money in earthly treasures that will rust, fade, get broken or be lost and forgotten; we bop from mall to mall gleefully singing the snappy jingles because we are deceived by the high priestly advertising gurus.
Western culture habitually uses and abuses a disproportionate share of the earth’s resources; in our affluence we need to revisit the message of Jesus when he preached passionately about “treasures in heaven” and “the lilies of the field”.
The false god of convenience is subtle. It fuels and is dependent on consumerism; the ease at which it creeps up on us to shape our perspective is alarming. In its service we rapidly learn how to justify every aspect of its demands on our lives. No acquisition is ever unnecessary; however, just because we can purchase the latest new and improved gadget does not mean that we should.
Have you ever noticed how quickly we are willing to jettison our values when they become inconvenient? For example, do we value human life? Though the numbing horror of abortion and euthanasia belies this fact, as civilized people we do value human life except when it becomes inconvenient by imposing itself on our inbred selfishness. Then we play a smoke and mirrors game with word definitions and scientific facts while we kneel down before the altar of convenience.
Our worship of convenience is also obvious in other areas: We lie or spin facts whenever it is inconvenient to be forthright and honest; we covet whenever it is inconvenient to work hard; we hoard whenever it is inconvenient to share; we munch on junk food whenever it is inconvenient to eat healthy; we skip church whenever it is inconvenient to attend; we cut corners and compromise whenever it is inconvenient to stand firm for what we believe.
Like a meandering river, we chart paths of least resistance. We need to be reminded that Jesus was talking about “counting the cost” when he said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
Our devotion to the false god of celebrity is self-evident in the deification of cultural icons. We even have a highly rated television show to manufacture the next American Idol because apparently there can never be enough gods or goddesses.
Consider the feeding frenzy that takes place whenever a celebrity dies. It becomes like a three-ring circus with fans swooning and clamoring for attention. The dead one is remembered through a prism of perfection; oft-times religious verbiage is invoked and saintlike status is inferred.
Prime examples of the hoopla mourning can be found in the deaths of Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Princess Diana and Michael Jackson; the manic eruption of emotion is exactly the same each time. Crowds gather for days and weeks; people disrupt their lives and are absorbed in sorrow of a magnitude that ought to be reserved for those we actually know and love. Grief is normal and natural but the near-hysteria displayed at the death of a celebrity speaks volumes about the basic emptiness in people’s lives.
Or consider President Obama. He is referred to as a rock star and stirs up euphoria in the masses; he is described as a transformational figure and in more than one forum has been granted the halo of a messiah. Seemingly seasoned commentators are swept up in the excitement of style over substance.
Without a doubt, a contributing factor in his ascendency to the Oval Office is the media generated celebrity culture. We constantly search for a savior among us; we look to the created instead of the Creator, believing that somehow wealth, privilege and celebrity is insulation from the universal fragility of being human.
We need a touch of reality: Regardless of position, achievement or fame in human circles “God is no respecter of persons” because “there is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
We make a fatal error when we elevate mere humans to lofty positions of grandeur. There is a great lesson we never seem to learn and apply; death relentlessly tracks every one down. All the wealth, power, influence and worship garnered by celebrity will never allow anyone to escape the grim reaper.
The deep-seated hunger of humanity has not been sated by our endless flirtations with idolatry. The false gods of consumerism, convenience and celebrity make futile promises which cannot silence the growling in our hearts.
What is offered by those idols is at best fleeting and vacuous, at worse, hurtful and self-destructive. We cry and mutter about the lack of morality, yet we worship at stagnant altars that have no moral absolutes; our moral code has been written by the shifting sand prophets of greed and avarice.
In the pursuit of peace and purpose, we disregard God’s provision; it is the priceless treasure which is much closer than we think. We have cast it aside and trampled upon it; we’ve misused and misrepresented it; we’ve made it nearly unrecognizable, but truth remains unchanged. Jesus of Nazareth said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry.”
Only Jesus Christ can satisfy everybody’s hungry heart.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
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