There is a popular television series in America named “American Idol” wherein contestants audition before three judges to exhibit their individual singing talents. The contestants are sifted and winnowed until there are but a few left. The audience can participate in the gleaning process and ultimately only one contestant is deemed “America’s Next Idol” with his or her own record contract.
The show has been a phenomenal success.
What does this say about us? You might object to where you perceive me going with this. You might point out that the word “Idol” doesn’t infer that people actually worship these people. You might suggest that no one sees these people as anything more than really talented singers and performers. You might suggest that the term “Idol” is used only in a common vernacular sense. But…
What if I were to point out that musicians in today’s society are treated differently than practically any other person?
There is no equivalent in American society to the cultural phenomena exhibited at concerts where people crowd together clamouring for a closer aspect of the performer. These people offer themselves without reserve to the enjoyment of the performer. In the secular extreme there are tens or hundreds of them willingly offering their physical bodies in sacrifice to the most prurient interests of the performer. In any case the scene is filled invariably with hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of people waving their arms, jumping frantically, screaming adoration – even BEFORE the artists take the stage.
The lives of these performers are scrutinized to the extreme as well. The paparazzi follow them about hoping for a glimpse into the private lives of these people. Books are written. Magazine articles are written. Posters are sold an hung on the walls of adoring teenagers and adults who should know better. There is altogether an amusing and oft scandalous interest in these performers that exceeds any interest in a deity of any kind.
And herein lies my objection. No one screams in adoration of God at any time. No one clamours in excited anticipation at the sunset, on Easter morning, before the Lord’s Supper or at any other time for worship of God. Yes, some will do this at “Christian Concerts” but there also appear the performers. Take the performers away and the ‘worshippers’ change their whole demeanor.
What is being worshipped are people. What is being worshipped are performers.
When was the last time the congregation stood in adamant applause at the reading of God’s word? They applaud performances during the ‘worship’ hour, but when do they applaud God for being God?
When was the last time, we as children of God worshipped Him as much as we worship celebrities? Can you really justify the ludicrous scene of a concert? Can you really justify before God Almighty your interest in Oprah’s book club or your favorite football teams’ draft choice? Can I really justify before my Father in Heaven my rapturous study of old movies and cinematic technique - or human philosophers – or the Chicago Bears for that matter?
It is not that the time I give to these things is bad. It is the measure of that time. It is the quality of that time. I have forgotten the fourth commandment, which was never done away with or superseded. I have given more excitement to the beginning of the NFL season than the beginning of Lent or Advent. I have given more energy to memorizing U2 lyrics than the Psalms. I have given more time to reading Plato than Paul. I have given more worship to man than God. May my Father in Heaven forgive me.
Are we worshipping false idols? What do you think? Perhaps it isn’t important to God? Perhaps God isn’t jealous? Perhaps God doesn’t really want our rapturous attentions and affectations?