Whether we are tempted to pay homage to athletes, actors, politicians, religious leaders, books, music, a landscape, or religious objects, we must understand that Jesus alone can cure our hearts of the propensity we have to churn out idols. As we look to Him by faith, our hearts are drawn off of the world and the things of the world, and are set on Him in glory.
I was recently struck with our propensity for creature worship while watching the documentary, “The Last Dance.” If anything reveals our desire to give undue homage to creation, it is in the way the world worshipped Michael Jordan throughout the 80s and 90s. If anything shows the willingness men have to be worshipped it is the fact that Jordan goes by the code name “Yaheweh” (i.e. the Hebrew word for the name of the Covenant God) in the company of his security team, and calls himself “Jesus.” Such evident idolatry should fill our hearts with trepidation, since every one of us is prone to “exchange the truth about God for a lie and worship and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever” (Rom. 1:25). Wherever–and in whomsoever–we see beauty or skill, there is a temptation for us to idolize it as “the thing itself.” As C.S. Lewis once observed,
“The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
In his Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin wrote the now famous words, “man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” Calvin was reflecting on the fact that the source of all false worship and idolatrous practice is the heart of man. This is evident, not simply in the way in which people all over the world practice and advance false religions. It is evident from the way in which we are prone to give too much significance to creatures and created objects.