Weekly bulletin article by Mike Johnson

In America, we are not confronted with what we might call “classic idolatry” on a daily basis. By “classic idolatry”, I mean statues and shrines where people fall down and worship a particular image. Those images are mostly confined to movies and are portrayed in very dark ways. They are associated with the occult, witches, and demons.

Therefore, it was rather startling on my first visit to South America. I was there to work with a group in the country of Guyana. My dad and mom have been going to Guyana for years and it was a great opportunity to be with them.

We entered South America through the big city of Georgetown. We were transported by a brother from the airport to the hotel traveling through the city. That was my first experience with the explicit nature of idolatry. So many houses had Hindu shrines in their yards and idols in their homes.

Now, we Christians would never be involved in anything like that! Not only are we too sophisticated to do anything like that, we also live Christian lives and such things are not allowed by God! John closed his first epistle with the words, “My little children, keep yourselves from idols.” (I John 5:21) Therefore, we feel perfectly vindicated when we say that we do not have trouble with idolatry.

But, there is this verse in Romans 2:22, “You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?” These people felt perfectly vindicated when they said that they did not have a problem with idolatry. Yet, Paul turned the tables on them when he identified idolatry with failing to give to the support of the temple. (He was talking to Jews who claimed to follow Judaism perfectly.) Remember this, Paul said that covetousness is idolatry (Colossians 3:5)! I wonder if America really does have a problem with idolatry!