So far the 2020s have offered society a reality check. Many are recognizing the truth that our idols have failed us.
Daily we see “the sorrows of those who take another god for themselves will multiply” (Ps. 16:4a). People are looking for answers in:
Money hasn’t prevented a pandemic or natural disasters, and the money we have today is worth much less than it was a year ago.
Daily news stories and headlines show how perverse our nation has become. Before the pandemic, the U.S. set records six years in a row for the number of cases of sexually transmitted diseases, and now monkeypox has begun spreading most rapidly through sexual contact.
People live in constant fear of losing political power, and political divisions have sparked constant incivility on social media and in other communication in society.
War, natural disasters, pandemics, societal strife and death itself are not being solved by the immense knowledge we’ve accumulated and continue to expand.
Lockdowns and quarantines during 2020 reminded us how much we enjoy sports, arts, travel and restaurants. We are grateful to be enjoying these activities again, but they often fail to measure up to the hopes we had for them.
Changes remind us not even this is worth our ceaseless pursuit.
None of these things are inherently evil. But the evil tendency inside every one of us is to raise up one or more good aspects of life to be the ultimate thing.
The church’s message would be much more difficult to share if the idols of our day were actually satisfying people’s needs. But they’re failing miserably. Maybe the church is missing this missional moment because we are also reeling as we realize our idols are lacking what we hoped they would provide.
As the church begins to share the benefits that the one true God offers, we must have the same conversation within our churches. Pastors notice followers of Christ in their congregations turning to the same gods the world is turning to: comfort, control or security, money, approval, success, social influence, political power and sex.
On any given weekend, some church members are absent from worship services. A few are homebound, caregiving or sick. But the majority of them are simply doing something else they believe will bring them more comfort: sleep, sports, sailing on the lake or having a family gathering.
Some who are not present in weekly worship services are working instead. Some of these jobs serve our society. Others are simply trying to get ahead, believing more money will satisfy their longings.
Our society tells us that whenever you decide to pursue something, you are expected to not just enjoy it but max it out. You need to have the best or latest or most, or else you’re really not into that hobby, fashion, sport or décor at all.
The question “why?” cuts to our hearts. It’s the question God asks about everything we do. He cares about our hearts. Too often our hearts (or our social media posts) reveal we are seeking approval on society’s rating system.
As we consider the many things we hold dear, consider a pair of short parables Matthew recorded where Jesus communicates there is a treasure that satisfies. Whatever it is we think we want to pursue, He offers something so much better.
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it” (Matt. 13:44–46).
Some in our congregations may need to be reminded that the free gift of salvation is to be grasped with both hands, not with one hand still holding our idols.
Now is the time for our congregations to choose whom they will serve.
Now is also the time for us to introduce our neighbors to someone worth pursuing with abandon, worth selling all you have to acquire, worth maximizing your time with and worth making the focus of your affection. Our other pursuits have fallen short, but Jesus Christ will not disappoint.