“If we’re not anchored in Christ … then our hearts can easily become seduced by cultural gods and then cave to temptation.”
From the book, The Daniel Dilemma by Chris Hodges
Something you should know about me is that I love sports, especially college football, and I root for my beloved Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers year-round—Geaux Tigers! And keep in mind, my favorite team isn’t very popular here in Birmingham, where I’m caught right in the crossfire between Auburn and Alabama—both former national champs and always contenders. I learned early in life that Southeastern Conference (SEC) football is its own denomination within the broader religion that is college sports. It’s fun, and I absolutely love it as much as any of those other rabid fans around me did at a spring scrimmage [I attended] in Tuscaloosa.
But that day I started thinking about how it’s normal for us to hoop and holler, scream and shout, paint our faces and high-five total strangers at a football game (or even in our living rooms watching a football game), but we feel uncomfortable if someone raises their hands or sings out “Amen!” in a worship service. (I have a dream that one day the praise on Sunday at my church, Church of the Highlands, will be greater than the praise that happens in the football stadiums on Saturday.) God doesn’t mind that we enjoy watching and playing sports. He minds if we don’t put him first. We should really consider why we’re willing to give praise to a team of athletes who don’t even know us but stay silent before the God who created us. It all comes down to worship.
When I focus on worship, I’m not talking about singing praise songs in a church service, participating in a responsive reading or praying with your small group. Those are all expressions of worship, but worship itself refers to what’s going on inside your heart.
Worship centers on the answer to a series of questions we all face: What matters most to me? Whom do I care about most? Who or what gets my devoted allegiance and loyalty? What’s my top priority? Where does all my time, energy and money go?
When we answer these questions honestly, we get a pretty accurate picture of where we stand with God. He created us in his own image as spiritual beings. We are made to worship, and if we’re not worshipping our Creator, then we’re trying to put something else in his rightful place. This is what we call idolatry: bowing down and offering our hearts to false gods.
Idolatry, worshipping anything or anyone instead of God, comes in many forms—not just in pagan statues and exotic shrines to false gods in the form of objects or animals. Our culture bombards us every day with alluring idols of power, money, sex and fame, each one asking us to bow before it. If we’re not anchored in Christ, if we haven’t drawn our line in the sand that we refuse to cross, then our hearts can easily become seduced by cultural gods and then cave to temptation. Our Enemy can take us out of the race and rob us of the purpose, peace and joy that God created us to experience.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. When others compel us to bow before their idols, we can refuse to cross that line. Again, this isn’t “us vs. them.” But we do need to recognize that our hearts are pursuing different things. That way we can stand strong—no matter how much heat we face.
Just like Daniel.
Taken from The Daniel Dilemma: How to Stand Firm and Love Well in a Culture of Compromise by Chris Hodges. Copyright © 2017 by Chris Hodges. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.TheDanielDilemma.com.