Do you know Larry Culpepper? He is the fictitious character on a TV commercial selling Dr Pepper, presumably at a football game. Larry surreptitiously discovers the NCAA Championship Football trophy in a secluded hideaway inside of a packed stadium. Entering the “sanctuary” where it is stored, he reverently worships and adores it. He praises it and relishes being in its presence. This brief interaction is abruptly ended by an intruder who interrupts the dialogue. Startled and ashamed, Larry futilely attempts to hide behind the trophy and is called out by the intruder. Humbled only momentarily, Larry dashes out of the trophy room, returns to the stadium and busily resumes hawking Dr Pepper to thirsty sports fans.
Although this description directly depicts the dedication of us sports fans, it also aptly describes our misplaced commitment to a myriad of modern day idols. Although I normally don’t think of myself as idol worshiper, I routinely but unconsciously obsess and devote myself to a host of dead deities. One of my favorite theologians has said that our hearts are idol factories. He is correct. I can turn anything into an idol.
Addictive behavior is rampant among us. Alcoholism, drug abuse or pornography might seem to be most obvious in our culture. However, each of us continually erect your own idols. Some of us worship our possessions or positions and responsibilities. Others bow before the altar of family or fitness. Think about it for a moment. Almost anything can become an object of our devotion. This is particularly true of even relatively good things. Idolatry is more subtle and prevalent than we like to admit.
It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see myself in the behavior of Larry Culpepper. I am so prone to misplace my devotion and adoration. Rather than adorning my God and Savior, I devote myself to lesser gods. When I’m called out about this, I attempt to hide and deny it – even though it’s blatantly obvious, especially to God. My human tendency is to follow Larry out of the room and return to the busyness of my idolatry. Confessing this in written form seems really dismal and disappointing. I should know better and I do. The problem is this: I can’t live up to what I know. God said (first through Moses and then through Jesus) that I am to love him with all of my heart, soul and strength. The fact of the matter is that I don’t and I can’t. Sometimes I don’t even try…
The Good News is that I know someone who has! Jesus devoted his entire life on earth to pleasing and loving God with all of his being and energy. It is amazing to consider that his every thought, motive, desire and action were focused on pleasing his Father. The good news of the Christian message is that Jesus has taken the guilt for our shortcomings to the cross and passes on to us his righteousness when we trust in him.
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)