People are People
Most of you probably remember the British Music Invasion of America in the mid-60s. This invasion did not result in conflict, but it was a title given to a time in history when many British rock groups came to America and introduced teenagers to a new kind of rock 'n roll. In 1963 T.V. news anchor Walter Cronkite ran a news story about a phenomenon sweeping the U.K. called Beatlemania. It wasn't long after this story aired that the "Fab Four," aka The Beatles, touched down on U.S. soil and took the nation by storm. Hundreds and thousands of frenzied teenage fans (mostly girls, flocked to the airport as they screamed and cried for a chance to glimpse John, Paul, George, and Ringo. Not long after, their music flooded the U.S. radio airwaves, and soon Beatlemania was in full-blown hysteria in the good ole U.S. of A.
The hype was so frenzied that many teenagers elevated these boys from Liverpool to godlike figures. John Lennon once said in an interview that the Beatles became so famous that mothers of disabled children were coming up to them and asking them to touch their child's hand in the hopes that it would cure the child's ailment.
The front row at their concerts was always full of disabled kids and wheelchairs, almost as though they were waiting to be anointed by the Beatles' sweat. Soon this became a horrifying experience for Lennon.
Lennon said, "When we would open, every night, instead of seeing kids there, we would see a row full of cripples along the front. When we'd be running through, people would be lying around. It seemed that we were just surrounded by cripples and blind people all the time, and when we would go through corridors, they would all be touching us. They'd line them up, and I got the impression The Beatles were being treated as bloody faith healers …" Their popularity was so great that John Lennon himself said that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus Christ at this time. In some ways, I think he may have been right.
People worship, or human elevation (that's what I will call it today), has been a thing since the dawn of creation. In preparation for this sermon, I encountered the clinical term "Celebrity Worship Syndrome.” The word syndrome was tagged by someone other than the one who first did the study on this. It was initially called Celebrity Worship Scale, but people changed it to a clinical term. Maybe you have been guilty of people worship at one time in your life. If you think the word worship is a bit much, then let's call it "human elevation." Now, you may say to yourself, no, I do not elevate people to a place higher than they deserve, stay with me as you may find you have, but maybe you did not realize it.
I am going to blow your mind with the following statement. Are you ready? People let people down. We are human, and no matter how disciplined, friendly, organized, or relatable you are, you will let someone down and be let down. When I mention people worship, you may have automatically associated this with the worship of performers, politicians, and professional athletes, and you certainly would not be completely wrong. These individuals have all been elevated to a place of godlike status in the public eye at some point.
Again, you may be thinking, "I'm a Christian, and I would never elevate a person over God." I would challenge you to think long and hard about that statement, and truth be told, YOU may not, but others have. It's Super Bowl Sunday, so let's use a good ole sports statistic from a few years back. A survey of nearly 1100 people asked, "Does Tim Tebow receive Divine intervention from God specifically during his games?" An astonishingly 43% answered "yes." These people believed Tebow was receiving special favors from God because he was vocal about his faith. I think Tebow is a great young man, and I believe he is a strong Christian. I also assume he would never approve of other Christians elevating him to this level. He often takes the focus off himself and places it on Jesus. The unfortunate reality is some men and women who are/were strong Christians that we like to hold up as the "poster boy or girl" of Christianity when Jesus should fill that spot.
"You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me."
It's safe to assume that all of us are familiar with this verse. If not, I'll refresh your memory. It is the second commandment. It is one that we hold in our hearts and lives. Sometimes I would call it the "duh" passage. But, of course, there are no other gods but God, right? Yes, but let's look at the context of this passage. When God gives the command to have no other gods, he isn't giving them new information. The reality was idolatry had already reared its ugly head among the Israelites. The irony of this passage is that while Moses is meeting with the true God on the mountain, the Israelites are constructing and worshiping a god they created down below. They essentially were worshiping themselves. They needed to worship someone or something, and they couldn't fathom what that someone or something was, so they crafted an idol after themselves. A god they created. So, if the Israelites could fall for the lie of idolatry, then so could Christians.
Areas of Idolatry
People worship/human elevation is something that some Christians do very well. It's subtle and is a recipe for disappointment, destruction, and sin. There is a reason why God does not share worship with anything or anyone because He is the only one who deserves our worship. Today I want to look at three areas where we put people in place of God
*. 80% of Pastors and spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their roles as pastors.
*. 70% of Pastors fight depression.
* Almost 40% have admitted to having an extra-marital affair since beginning in ministry.
These stats tell me three things…
My intention has not been to diminish the importance of relationships, respect (for pastors and celebrities), and reverence). Instead, I intend to free us from the bondage and the lie of the belief that a person can ever fill the role of God in our lives. People are wonderful, and God gave us one another so we can elevate and praise him in community, not the other way around. Every person in this room is human, and we naturally tend to fail one another and let each other down. But our God is faithful and trustworthy and will never disappoint us. So let us put our energy into worshiping, serving, and praising God and putting Him on the pedestal to receive all honor, glory, and praise.
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Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
Preview or purchase Jeff's Books