Steve Dresselhaus – November 2012
Being raised in a Roman Catholic country I grew accustomed to countless idols, images and other physical reminders of religion. Roadside shrines and remote chapels adorn the countryside. Crosses seem to cap every hill. The religious names of businesses, towns, mountain peaks and mountain ranges, rivers and ocean bays all give uninterrupted testimony of generation after generation of religiosity. A world away, in the remotest parts of Tibet, ever present religiosity is much the same as it is in Latin America, just different names; names unpronounceable by a western tongue.
It is worth noting that in neither of these world areas does the abundance of idols seem to affect the daily lives of the people. Unless there is a pressing urgent need, the religious symbols simply sit there, ignored in benign oblivion, occupying physical space but taking up little, if any, space in the heart. Until there is a want, a need or a crisis the sacred objects serve as little more than gatherers of dust and bird droppings. The everywhere present religious symbols are, to a large extent, simply ignored and do not impact life one way or another.
After traveling the world and seeing religious symbols everywhere and in every culture, I have concluded that America is the most religious and most idolatrous nation on the planet. We take our idols very seriously. Our idols are reverently worshipped every day and we believe they do impact our lives and proffer happiness and peace. The idols we worship are found in our malls, our big box stores and at our family shrine called Amazon.com. It sometimes takes God years to answer a prayer. Amazon.com “one click” answers our prayers as quickly as we can tap the mouse button. As we lovingly and worshipfully gaze upon our conjoined idols of comfort and stuff we believe that possessing just one more thing will make us happy, that we would be satisfied. We have come to believe that by owning more stuff we will live a life of comfort and ease, not realizing that we have done nothing more than rename our barns (Luke 12:18) with names like Savings, Abundance, Belly Fat, Equity, 401K and social security.
Contrary to popular American beliefs, God did not bless America with abundance because of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Why would an all wise and all-knowing God reward us with the very thing that he knows will seduce us away from him? Our God-obscuring wealth is more in keeping with the Romans 1 account of God “giving them over” to the sinful desires of their hearts. Our worship of wealth and comfort is destroying relationships, destroying our environment and is decimating the church as we know it far more effectively than a thousand moral failures. Let us confess our idolatry and begin using our wealth to make this world a better place now and in the future.