Idolatry is a big thing today. I visited Edmonton, Canada a few years back. They have this big silver thing in the middle of town. It’s a reproduction of the Stanley Cup that their hockey team has won a few times. Pittsburgh gets one of them things every once and a while. We try not to make an idol of it. How are we doing?
Ever since Mohamed Ali people have been saying, “I’m the greatest.” Most have been less deserving than Mr. Ali. You may have someone over you at your workplace who thinks that they are the greatest — it has a way of making them a lousy boss. Many people today work for a business that wants them to idolize the company — that is — to sacrifice your thoughts and your family time for its ends. No job should do that.
There are people both commoners and politicians today, who are making an idol out of their political party. They believe that any end that advances their agenda can be justified — whether it means gerrymandering voting districts, or spreading rumors about an opposing candidate, or giving their unqualified relatives and friends a position in office, ahead of those who know something about governing. Political crap and idolatry is ruining American democracy. If we want them to stop it, we best start calling it what it is, idolatry.
Face it, though, from the moment we are born, we are encouraged to worship false idols. As a child, I was taught that people who had lighter skin were superior — I had to unlearn, with great embarrassment and difficulty — the idolatry of racism. Some of us were led to the false idols of alcoholism and drugs. Some of us took on compulsive addictions like pornography and endless hours of computer gaming.
Paul writes in I Corinthians 12:2:
You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.
In Chapters 11, 12, and 13 of I Corinthians, Paul speaks about the role the Holy Spirit plays in the Church. While the 11th chapter doesn’t specifically mention the Spirit, Paul is concerned there about worship and he assumes that there is an ordering spirit that keeps what we do on track. Similarly, in the 13th chapter of I Corinthians, Paul famously talks about Love. He is assuming, however, that there is a spirit within us that teaches us how to love. The Holy Spirit is real. In the 12th chapter, Paul speaks about three things that the Holy Spirit does in the life of every believer.
First, it guides our lives away from dumb idols. We must learn to test every spirit of this age against the true and Holy Spirit of God.
Second, it helps us to grow in our relationship with Jesus. As Paul says in verse three, “No one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”
Third, the Holy Spirit gifts each of us with special talents and spiritual capabilities. We are led by the spirit to use our gifts with others.