What are the common sources for worship — other than God — in our contemporary culture?
Try these: sport, savings, and sex. Sport includes not simply playing, but spectating, and gambling. Savings includes the covetousness of building our own kingdom, but it also refers to our modern day worship for spending. Look at so many economies around the world; so many countries are in the fiscal mess they’re in because of undisciplined and unconscionable economic wisdom of the day. Sex is probably the most hidden of all the sins. But how close are the temptations of the flesh toward making sex a dangerously pervasive god?
What underlies all these categories of sin?
It must certainly strike us disciples as odd that we can control our own lives, and regulate our desires.
“First John denies the commonplace assumption that human beings create themselves or are competent to assume final responsibility for their individual and collective well-being,” C.C. Black says in his commentary on 1 John.
What the human nature craves for, what the eyes crave for, pride over one’s possessions; these are commonplace encumbrances of sin that tell us we cannot assume final responsibility for our individual and collective well-being. So why do we negate God and do it on our own?
Sport, savings, and sex are notorious sectors of taking life as we see it and assuming the final responsibility for our well-being.
When we prefer to focus a lot of time and energy on those things that are not inherently of God, we need to ask whether we have put some distance between us and our Lord. Whenever we begin to think selfishly we will naturally put more distance between us and God. Indeed, it may be argued that to think selfishly is to have put a massive gulf between us and our Lord in the most fundamental way.
It’s not just things purely of typical worship that are in focus. Whenever we give ourselves for the things of our relationships we are worshipping God. If we spend time investing in our learning, or making money to adequately support our families, or make the effort to genuinely rest up from fatigue, we are carrying out God’s wishes.
If there are three key expressions of idol worship today, they are sport, savings, and sex. Our challenge is to enjoy sport in moderation, to be good stewards with our money and possessions, and to embrace sex within our marriages.
© 2015 S. J. Wickham.
Note: USC version is Under the Southern Cross, The New Testament in Australian English (2014). This translation was painstakingly developed by Dr Richard Moore, a NT Greek scholar, over nearly thirty years.
Acknowledgement: to Paul Forman for the Spirit’s revelation behind this article. He calls it the Doctrine of the Three S’s.