“You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. – Exodus 20:3-6
Recently, detrimental allegations of prostitution have come out against rising conservative star Matt Gaetz. For the purposes of this devotional, we need not argue about the legitimacy or specifics of these allegations. The allegations come as a huge shock to his supporters, many of whom will undoubtedly try to minimize the horrors he is accused of and defend any wrongdoing. Gaetz is not the first politician to have a large group shielding him in the face of nasty allegations, and he certainly won’t be the last. Why is it that politicians, along with other popular societal figures, are defended for their heinous actions by others? Idolatry.
We often think of idolatry in a very literal sense. We picture the golden calf the Israelites worshipped while Moses ascended Mount Sanai. In modern times, we often worship our politicians. We wear clothing with their slogan on it, we have their name plastered all over our cars, we even find ourselves telling strangers around us how much we love these idols on a regular basis. How many of these things have you recently done for a politician? How many of them have you done for God?
Idolatry is dangerous for both spiritual and practical reasons. Spiritually, when we spend all our focus on someone other than God he is not happy with us: “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God.” Making God jealous is something we should all be scared of doing.
Practically, idolatry can be detrimental because we think of the individuals we idolize as infallible. Since these people are just that, people, we will inevitably be disappointed. God, however, is infallible. No one is more fit to be worshipped than the being who created the universe and sent his only son to die for our salvation although we were not worthy. He is the only one we were made to worship.
Supplemental reading: Galatians 4:8-9
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces[d]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?