ADVERTISING
 
Tuesday, April 24   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 
 

POLL
Easter
What we read in the Gospels about the life, death and ressurrection of Jesus Christ is...





SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Michael Gowen
 

Idols (Hosea 8)

In the Western world today you will not find in public places very many idols of the type that you can see in Nepal. Does this mean that the West is superior and has largely got rid of its idols? Not at all! 

FAITHFUL UNDER PRESSURE AUTHOR Michael Gowen 28 JUNE 2015 06:05 h GMT+1
idol, building, city Photo: Anthony Delanoix (Unsplash, CC)

Nepal has been very much in the news of late, as a result of the serious earthquakes which recently hit this desperately poor nation so devastatingly.



I have spent time in Nepal, visiting missionary friends who were assisting in healthcare and development projects. Although there is a vibrant, growing Christian church in the country, the culture is overwhelmingly Hindu in most regions.



The Nepalis are so friendly and hospitable; yet I have never been to a country where there are so many altars and idols in public places: one on almost every street corner, with the dried blood and the uneaten rice giving evidence of sacrifices that have been offered to them. One particularly vivid memory that I have retained is of a father demonstrating to his 7-year-old son how to sacrifice a chicken as an offering to one of these idols.



Hosea tells us in this chapter that Israel in his time was very much like Nepal is today: altars and idols all over the place (verses 4-6, 11-13), political instability (verse 4 - remember the massacre of the Nepali royal family in 2001?), food shortages (verse 7) and large, powerful neighbours (verses 8-10). And just as the oppression of the idols can be so keenly felt in Nepal today, so too Israel was oppressed by her idols.



In the Western world today you will not find in public places very many idols of the type that you can see in Nepal. Does this mean that the West is superior and has largely got rid of its idols? Not at all! The idols are still there, but now they have become much more subtle.



For an idol is anything or anybody that takes our heart away from God, that takes the place in our life that is rightfully his. So, we could think of so many things in the West that can become idols: money, possessions, sex, physical wellbeing, celebrities, film stars, musicians, football teams, sportsmen and women, to name but a few. All have the potential to fill our hearts and minds, so that there is little or no space left for God.



The Bible is clear that an idol has no personality of its own (1 Corinthians 8:4); but whatever is offered to an idol is actually offered to demons; and this is incompatible with vibrant Christian faith and is actually a provocation to God (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).



How can we tell if we have an idol in our life? How can we know if, for example, our following our football team, or a certain film star or musician is simply a healthy leisure pursuit or an idol? How can we tell if our possessions or our career have become an idol?



One simple test is to look at what we spend our time thinking about. For example, how much of our thought life is taken up with our football team, or with a group, a solo artist, a film star who we really admire?



How often do we find ourselves dwelling on sexual images in our mind? How much time do we spend thinking and plotting our next salary increase, or our next promotion at work, or how we could afford to buy that thing which we have so wanted for so long? And, in contrast, how much of our thought life is focused on our relationship with Jesus and how he is at work in our lives and in the world around us?



The answers to these questions may be quite revealing, even disturbing; and they are very important. For it is vital that we root all idols out of our lives because they are so inherently destructive (verse 4). Hosea points out that also they stop us from being productive (verse 7), they take away our human worth and dignity (verse 8), they bring us under oppression (verse 10), they bring God’s displeasure upon us (verse 13) and ultimately they cause us to forget God (verse 14). Who in their right mind would not want to avoid these fearful consequences?



John writes a beautiful letter in the Bible whose central theme is how to receive God’s love and give back that love to him and to the people around us. Then at the very end he finishes with these surprising words: Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).



I had often wondered why John introduced this seemingly random, unconnected thought right at the end of his letter. Then the penny dropped: idols demand our commitment and our affections and are the one single thing that will most prevent us from receiving God’s love and from sharing that love with him and with others. So, let us keep ourselves from idols.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Idols (Hosea 8)
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Christians in politics? Christians in politics?

What is the role of Christians serving in politics? An interview with Auke Minnema, the new General Director of the European Christian Political Movement (ECPM).

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe Michael Schluter: Relationships are the key to build Europe

The economist summarises the manifesto “Confederal Europe: Strong Nations, Strong Union” and explains why personal relationships should be at the centre of our economy, education and democracy. 

 
Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues Efraim Tendero: Relationship with Roman Catholicism and other current issues

The World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General participated in the Italian Evangelical Alliance assembly (Rome, 8-9 April). In this interview with Evangelical Focus, Bp Tendero talks about the need to listen to local churches and to face challenges like the refugee crisis and climate change. 

 
Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum Greg Pritchard: European Leadership Forum

Pritchard explains the vision of ELF, comments on the 2015 event in Poland and reflects on what it means to have an "evangelical identity".

 
Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission Evi Rodemann: Youth and mission

“We want to see the youth not just being equipped, but also being multipliers”, Evi Rodemann director of Mission-Net. The European Congress took place in Germany from December 28 to January 2.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Coexistence in the church - a model for society Coexistence in the church - a model for society

“Gospel, identity and coexistence” were the themes of the General Assembly of the Spanish Evangelical Alliance. Two days in Palma de Mallorca to reflect about the role of evangelical churches in society.

 
'Ungi kulimi changana' 'Ungi kulimi changana'

Educator and journalist Jordi Torrents shares images of the Sekeleka social centre in Mozambique. About 50 children live there, many with some kind of disability. All photos were taken with permission.

 
The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve The President in an evangelical church on Christmas Eve

For the first time, the President of Portugal attended a worship service in an evangelical church. It was in Sintra, on Christmas Eve.

 
I am not on sale I am not on sale

Young Christians gathered at Madrid’s central square Sol to denounce human trafficking. A flashmob highlighted the work of three evangelical NGOs which support women who escape sexual slavery in Spain.

 
Stamps to commemorate the Reformation Stamps to commemorate the Reformation

Poland, Lithuania, Namibia and Brazil are some of the countries that have issued special stamps on the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 theses.

 
VIDEO Video
 
Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation? Why are Christian leaders particularly vulnerable to sexual temptation?

“The reasons why somebody might have sex with a prostitute are very different from the reasons why somebody might want to have an affair with a member of their congregation”. An analysis by John Stevens, National Director of FIEC (UK).

 
Be safe on social media Be safe on social media

A video about the way traffickers target teenage girls online, produced by anti-slavery gorup Abolishion.

 
In Mission In Mission

A 360º lyric video about how all followers of Jesus Christ are called to serve God. Duo in Spanish (Alex Sampedro) and Portuguese (Marcos Martins).

 
Heart Heart

A short animation film by Swiss cartoonist Alain Auderset tells the message of the Bible in four minutes.

 
Philip Yancey interview Philip Yancey interview

An 8-minute interview with Philip Yancey on the role of Christians in a secularised society. Recorded in Madrid, September 2016.

 
An interview with Prof. John Lennox An interview with Prof. John Lennox

New atheism, the definition of "faith", Christianity in Europe, the role of the Bible in mission, and the need to listen more. An exclusive interview recorded at "Forum Apologética" (Tarragona, Spain) in May 2016.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.