Idols and Christians
The thought of idols conjures up images of religious darkness and paganism. Could a true Christian fall prey to idol worship? Could a Christian become an idolater – one who worships idols? Evidently. If it wasn’t possible then the Apostle John’s exhortation is hollow. Wasn’t it a strange way for John to conclude his important Epistle? Why didn’t he write a closing benediction? Like – “Now, may the only True God and His Son, Jesus Christ, give you peace and comfort your hearts and protect you from the attacks of the Evil One. But that’s not the way John signed off.
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols.”
John hadn’t even mentioned the word ‘idol’ anywhere else in his letter. 2500+ words in the English version and no mention of idols until you bump into it in the last verse. If it was intended to have an impact, it succeeded. If such a warning was buried in the middle of all the other matters addressed in a letter, one might just think it was another piece of teaching. But when the letter concludes with the warning, be sure of this, it was intended to be a huge flashing light.
John had written extensively about the only True God and His Son Jesus Christ. He outlined the distinguishing marks of an authentic Christian versus fakes and frauds. There were false teachers who were worming their way into the minds of believers and spreading heresy about the Person and Humanity of Christ. They were attacking the fundamentals of the faith. John wanted to protect the sheep from such attacks.
In the second last verse of his letter, John highlights the TRUE GOD and His Son Jesus Christ. And then he closes with: “Little Children, my dear ones, keep yourselves, protect and actively guard yourselves from idols – from anything and everything that could potentially move in and occupy the place reserved for the true God in your life.”
For those reading John’s letter for the first time, he was not really referring to metal images but to mental images placed in their minds by the false teachers. Perhaps when they prayed or tried to enjoy the Lord, the damaging ‘untrue’ mental images of God and His Son constructed in their minds by the false teachers loomed in their thinking like spiritual monsters.
Perhaps you have been trying to reason with another person regarding the Truth and rather than you making inroads into their thinking, they’re poisoning you with theirs. You are having thoughts you never had before until you started giving them air time. Protect yourself from idols. Maybe the mental images that you keep mulling over in your mind are the result of sites you have visited on the internet. Guard yourself from idols. Your idol could be your career. His idol could be sports. Her idol could be entertainment. Their idol could be pleasure. My idol could be expensive things. Someone else could idolize their family. For others it could be the philosophy of the age that has a death grip on the affections of their heart.
No matter what the idol is – it is wicked idolatry because it displaces the true God from the control center of your life. Anything that causes God to have second place in my life is the idol in my life. Can you think of anything or anyone who has upstaged and displaced the priority of God in your life?
It is no small wonder that John closes his letter with such a plea and a warning. What a tragedy for a Child of God to become so ensnared and trapped in idolatry. It almost sent a chill over old John as he wrote it. Someone called it an ‘eloquent shudder’ as he signed off the letter.
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.
Warmly in Christ