Much of the 'news' (i.e. political commentary disguised as news) these days surrounding the events of the world is inconsistent and sometimes contradictory. For example, reading news from one source can lead us to believe that COVID-19 is the greatest threat to humanity since the dark ages while another news source leads us to believe it is little more than a nuisance. Most of us, I think, recognize that the truth about COVID, like most things reported in the 'news' is somewhere in between these two poles. The unreliability of the media creates a secular example of a crisis of faith--whom can you trust? Honestly, when it comes to 'news,' probably no single source is trustworthy.
While an easy example, I hope that no one puts much faith or trust in the news media. The things in which we trust, especially for the 'big things' are oftentimes more reliable...or are they?
Writing on the First Commandment in his Large Catechism, Martin Luther describes for us what it mean when God commands us, “You are to have no other gods.” He asks and explains:
What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What does “to have a god” mean, or what is God? Answer: A “god” is the term for that to which we are to look for all good and in which we are to find refuge in all need. Therefore, to have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe in that one with your whole heart. As I have often said, it is the trust and faith of the heart alone that make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true one. Conversely, where your trust is false and wrong, there you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God. Anything on which your heart relies and depends, I say, that is really your God.
As I've written before, we tend to think of false gods or idols in terms of Old Testament accounts--Baal, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Dagon, Molech, or others. The gods of our age, that is, those things in which we 'find refuge in all need' are not so blatantly idolatrous. Satan knows we are much more 'sophisticated' than to fall for those old gods and tricks.
The gods of our enlightened age typically include the idols of:
- government, politicians, and parties
- talents, resumes, and skills
- friendships, relationships, and influence
- money, financial security, and 'stuff'
- jobs, career progression, and titles
- N95 masks, lockdowns, and vaccinations
None of these is inherently bad. Read that again...none of these is inherently bad...in fact, the opposite is true. All of them rightly understood are God's gracious gifts to us. With any of them, however, comes the risk that we worship the creation rather than the Creator. None of them brings us good or creates refuge in themselves. They are all tools used by God to bring blessing and safety, but as Christians we must never fail to recognize their source and our ultimate hope, our Triune God who Himself is love, goodness, and peace.
Photo by Tony Eight Media on Unsplash