Today we continue with our series on being a fifth gospel believer – that is, understanding that we are the only gospel that most people will read, so we must get our lives right if we are to represent Christ faithfully and to impact the world powerfully. This series speaks right along the line of this year’s theme which is discipleship.
In allowing ourselves to be discipled this morning, I would like to focus on the very grave sin of dancing semi-naked around golden calves. Now, I know some of you have been doing this, and I want confessions on who it has been right now. You, Pierre? You, Kyoko? Come on, own up. I’m waiting.
Okay, maybe idolatry no longer exists today. Or maybe it just takes on a whole different appearance…
Last year, Mike gave two excellent sermons on idolatry, focussing specifically on idolatry of money, and idolatry of people. (You might remember that second one – he was saying how wrong it would be to have a photo of me on your family altar at home – implying, of course, that it would be okay to have a picture of Mike on your family altar at home!;).)
So Mike addressed two prime areas of idolatry and today I’d like to build on that.
Let’s start by quickly looking at the fundamental principles that God has given us to live right: the 10 commandments. 十戒
1. No other gods, only me.
2. No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim.
3. No using the name of God, your God, in curses or silly banter.
4. Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.
5. Honor your father and mother
6. No murder.
7. No adultery.
8. No stealing.
9. No lies about your neighbor.
10. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s.
Notice that not only the first commandment, but the second as well, addresses idolatry. So this is not some amendment or afterthought that God added later. This is where obedience to God – discipleship – starts: having no other God; no idols. And here’s the key thing. If you don’t follow the first commandment, it’s going to be virtually impossible to follow any of the others. 第一の戒めを守らないのなら、他の戒めを守るのは不可能も同然です。
So if it’s not dancing around golden calves semi-naked, then what does idolatry look like today. You might be surprised. Let me refer to a conversation an American missionary had with a local woman in India. In India, there are idols as far as the eye can see and people sacrifice chickens to them all day long. The missionary asked the woman if she would like to visit the U.S. again. She said she would never go again because she couldn’t stand the idolatry there. The missionary asked her to explain.
“Your god is your stomach with your restaurants everywhere. Your god is your sports teams and you build multi-million dollar stadiums to house them. Your god is your television and all the chairs in your home are lined up so the family can gather around the altar and worship that god.” She might have added for the younger generation, your god is that device you hold in your hand and set your life around.
Today I’d like us to nail this. I’d like us to really understand what things we’re putting before God – what gods we’re putting before the true God.
Bobby Caldwell lists the top 8 idols for modern western culture. 現代の西洋文化のトップ８アイドル
(The kids will help with the reveal)
8. Stuff 物質
Ours is probably the most materialistic society in the history of mankind. Take a look around you home and ask yourself 2 questions: i) Do I really need all this stuff, and ii) If God asked me to let it go, could I?ⅰ）本当にこれらすべてが必要だろうか ⅱ）神に手放すようにと言われたら、できるだろうか
7. Cash お金
There’s something in us that whispers “just a little bit more”. And in a struggling economy, it can be even more so. “もう少しだけ”とささやく声が私たちのうちにある
(Adult reveal this one)
6. Sex セックス
Caldwell: “Sexual pleasure is a narcotic more toxic and addictive than any drug. Tens of millions are enslaved to pornography and a fantasy world of sexual experience and fulfilment. Advertisements, art, media, movies and the Internet have all contributed to our seemingly insatiable craving for this natural human drug of choice. A great thing in marriage, but otherwise an idol that subtly or not so subtly creeps upon us.”
5. Technology テクノロジー
Try living without it for a day or two and then ask yourself if it is an idol in your life. Technology is here to stay and it can be an incredibly useful tool. As believers, we must distinguish between technology as a tool to serve us and technology as a master that rules us. 私たちに役に立つ道具としてのテクノロジーと私たちを支配するマスターとしてのテクノロジーの区別をつけなくてはいけません。
4. Beauty 美
Our society is obsessed with appearance, evident in both the multi-billion dollar beauty industry and the levels of depression in women (especially). 私たちの社会は見かけにこだわっています。
3. Entertainment 娯楽
The average American spends 5 hours a day watching TV – that amounts to a full working week of watching TV every week. In Japan it’s about half that. But on top of that, there is texting, playing games, listening to music, watching video clips. Have you ever spoken to a teenager with one ear piece in? We could well be looking at a generation of media junkies.
2. Success 成功
The pressure to be (or at very least look) successful is huge today. Position, title, achievements are often front and centre when we meet people. That’s very often how we identify ourselves. Our success is ‘who we are’.人に会うとき、地位、肩書、業績が先に出たり、中心になったりします。
1. Religion 宗教
Especially the Christian faith. Really? Yes, really. It’s so easy for us to replace a love relationship with Jesus, with Christian values and activities. As followers of Jesus, we can unknowingly worship the Christian faith, rather than Jesus Himself. We can even prioritise Biblical principles over the person of God. If being with your Christian friends, being in a Bible study, being a member of a church, singing or playing in a worship band, or being a spiritual leader – all good things! – mean more to you than Jesus does, then we have a problem. We can easily commit idolatry right here in church.
So before I move on to the final part of this message, I’d like to ask this: what altars do you need to tear down? どの祭壇を取り壊さないといけないでしょうか？
Let’s pray about this now.
Finally, a sermon like this, though important and beneficial for our lives, can easily become very negative. Don’t have any idols before God. Don’t spend too much time watching TV. Don’t think about your physical appearance so much. Don’t, don’t, don’t.
Let me finish with two points. The first is the flip side to “You shall have no other gods before me”, あなたはわたしのほかに、なにものをも神としてはならない。
and that is “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength.” 心をつくし、精神をつくし、思いをつくし、力をつくして、主なるあなたの神を愛せよ。
This is how we are to live our lives. The ‘don’ts’ are only there to clarify this big ‘do’. Love God. With everything you’ve got. This is the most important commandment we have. And if we know what love is, and are faithful to this commandment, the other things will follow naturally. So let loving God be the essence of your daily life. ‘してはいけないこと’は、この大きな‘しなければいけないこと’をはっきりさせるためにあるのです。神を愛することを日々の生活の本質としましょう。
Secondly, what are the benefits of avoiding idolatry and loving God with all of our hearts? Let me make a short list for you to meditate on. I encourage you to pick up on these and think through them at home. 心から神を愛することから得られること
1We have the assurance of salvation. 救いの確信がある
2The peace of God fills our hearts. 神の平安が私たちの心を満たす
3We have long life. 長生きする
4We can avoid evil. 悪を避けることができる
5The blessing of God is upon us. 神の祝福がある
Let’s rejoice in the love of God and pledge to respond with a life of love wholly devoted to Jesus. 神の愛のうちに喜び、イエスに完全に献身した愛の人生をもって答えようではありませんか。