Every culture has its gods. Scripture tells us that we were created in God’s image (Gen. 1:27) and that we all desire worship. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This statement teaches that all of mankind will worship, and that all of mankind is created to only enjoy the benefits of worshiping the Triune God of Scripture. Scripture also teaches us that we are desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9) and that we seek to suppress the truth about God by our unrighteous actions (Rom. 1:18-32). As a result of this state of affairs, humanity has rolled through the millennia worshiping one false deity after another, alternating from the worship of other creatures to systems and governments. Humanity always seeks an object of worship, be it sun, moon or stars, be it mammal or reptile, be it king or prince. We desire peace, rest, freedom from guilt, community, and love, and we will worship anything but the true God in order to get these things.
During the last year we have seen an ever increasing madness come upon our culture. At first we were simply cautious, where social distancing and wearing masks were a precaution. But as time went on we began to elevate these outward signs to the place of saving works. I have watched the attitudes of the people in our culture change from cautious acceptance to zealous fervour. I believe that we are being handed over to our gods and they are being exposed for what they are. Our culture worships government, so we have been handed over to the whims of un-elected tyrants who now regulate every aspect of our lives. We have forgotten that God made us with the responsibility to care for ourselves, our families, and our communities. We now outsource this responsibility to an elected official. Our ballot is cast and our duty is done. We pay our tithes to Caesar and he disperses them to the needy. There is no longer any need to get our own hands dirty by helping the poor or needy. Our magistrates have become our gods. The true God will not allow this idolatry to continue forever; He is now exposing the idol that has long been hidden in our closet.
The Apostle John wrote, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” (1 John 2:15). Fear of losing our jobs, safety, health, homes, and electronics has been a powerful force for a very long time, but for the last year we have seen that as long as we have our things we will tolerate all manner of tyranny. Our worship of the true and living God has proven to be weak and ineffectual against the love of material goods. It turns out we are more tied to the world than we first thought. Though our governments have shut down many businesses, they leave the “behemoths” alone since they provide us with our bread and circuses, delivered to our door, in a matter of days. We have opted for isolation with our household gods over community. We have chosen the temporal over the eternal. God has exposed our deep reliance on the things of the world and COVID was His tool.
The saying “stay safe” has become so common that we find it rolling off of our tongues without a thought. We have become so obsessed with the idea of safety that we have been willing to give the responsibility for our own safety into the hands of people who neither care for us nor have the ability to deliver on their promises to protect us. Are we not children of God Almighty? Does He not love us more than we love ourselves? Is He not able to protect and guide us? And if He allows us to suffer, do we not trust that in the end He will work all things according to the council of His will (Eph. 1:11) and for our good (Rom. 8:28)? Judging by our response over the last year it would seem that our corporate answer to these questions is ‘no’. Is it God’s will for all of His children to live a life free of pain and suffering, or does He not have a greater purpose in mind for His elect? Are we not commanded to pray ‘not my will but yours be done’ (Luke 22:42, James 4:15)? Is our duty to our Lord not of more importance than our considerations for our own selves? I ask all of these questions hoping that we know the answers and that we can say like the servant in Luke 17, “‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty,’” (Luke 17:10).
The book of Exodus tells the story of how God dealt with the Egyptians by plagues that mocked their false gods. After this, He led the people of Israel out of bondage by His servant Moses, doing mighty works in all of their sight to prove His faithfulness and power. Yet, despite this, within a very short period of time they longed for their previous bondage. They longed for the food of their slavery over the food that God providentially provided for them. As His Church, do we long to return to our bondage to the world? Or will we learn from these trials and learn to rely solely on Him? Will we reject the lust of the flesh, and of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16-17), knowing that these things lead to slavery and death? Or, will we faithfully follow the Good Shepherd who loves His own and laid Himself down for them (John 10:11-19)?
Our culture has resorted to demonstrating virtue through pieces of cloth over their faces and isolation from community and love. We will never reach these lost souls through compromise or conforming to their ways; we must recognize and proclaim that “All our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment,” (Isa. 64:6). True virtue and true righteousness belong to Jesus Christ, and can only be imputed to us by repentance and faith. All that we can bring to a culture saturated in idols and lies is the truth that God exists, and that He rewards those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6). Let our lives be a reflection of the truths of God’s Word and of the Saviour whom we serve. Let us go out into all the world and let the message of the Gospel, and the Gospel alone, ring loud and clear.