Two general rules of thumb for polite conversation are to never discuss politics or religion. With a title like the one for this post, you’re probably assuming I’m going to be breaking the second part. Further, most authors are reluctant to discuss politics or religion for fear of alienating readers.
I’m going to break the rule. It’s for a good cause.
Anyone who knows me and has read this site knows I’m a Christian. It might not be the focus of most of my posts here, but it’s readily apparent in large and small ways.
Matthew 6:24 has been on my mind recently: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (NIV translation) Most sermons and lessons I’ve heard couple the verse with 1 Timothy 6:10: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
The problem with this pairing is that Matthew 6:24 isn’t just about money – it’s about serving two masters. Money is incidental and common, but hardly singular.
My social media feed is filled with all types: political activists of most stripes, hunters, vegans, weightlifters, video gamers, blue-collar workers on food stamps to middle management, wage slaves and contractors, government employees and private business owners, and authors both independent and signed with a major publishing house. In short, I see a lot of diverse opinions on virtually any subject that comes up.
Many of them, perhaps most of them, don’t realize what god they worship. (Lowercase god is intentional.)
It’s important to me that I note here that I’m not criticizing anyone here – this understanding only surfaced after some long reflection on myself and my own priorities.
I see self-proclaimed Christians who seem to focus solely on their jobs. All of their energy and concentration seem to be bound up in their employment. Self-employed people tend to have this the worst: a focus so intent on a business succeeding that there is no time for spiritual affairs or the business of the church.
Those who work for others spend their off-hours energy elsewhere. Many worship at the altar of fitness – their Facebook and Twitter posts are about Crossfit, about marathon running, about triathlons or powerlifting. Often related to this are the latest diet fads, be they paleo or vegan or Atkins. These people are focused on the body and absolute physical health, believing it necessary or perhaps even the key to finding spiritual health and happiness.
Others revel in leisure activities, ranging from the intensely indoors (video games – MMORPGs tend to be the worst) to the intensely outdoors (hunting, fishing, boating, hiking, camping). They worship creation, not the Creator, with their actions betraying the lies of their words.
The idol of human knowledge is the target of much worship. Even among those who line the pews on Sunday morning are quick to ignore the Word for the next six days while seeking only the secular.
I’m as ugly a sinner as any. This is not a holier-than-thou post. But if you’re a believer in any faith, and you read this, I ask you: by your actions, by your money, by your time and energy, what do you worship?