Americans and their Idols

“ Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” – (1 John: 5:21, KJV)

Anything which you place above your worship and obedience of God is an idol.

In the United States, many Americans (including some Orthodox) have numerous idols which takes precedence over God in their lives. It’s the norm – not the exception. Numerous activities, beliefs and social constructs are worshiped – far more human energy and devotion given to them than to God, thus such beliefs and activities become the false gods most people value over God in their lives.

Idols are not merely easily identified objects of tangible physical formation as in the statue of a golden calf or any other material effigy, they encompass anything – even an idea – which supersedes God and His will for your life. To what do you devote most of your time, mind, emotions, energy, and money?

In a spiritually lost society such as the USA, a nation who predominately has rejected God, there are many idols, and it is never questioned. However, unfortunately, even those who claim to be Christians (whether they are or not is between an individual and God), routinely, indeed daily, engage in idol worship in this country. Some, even when it is lovingly pointed out to them by a fellow Christian brother or sister, defensively (from ego) double down in their idol worship, making excuses for behaviors which are the antithesis of the faith they represent themselves to be.

We “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, KJV), and yet each step of our life path we should be examining ourselves in light of God’s will. It is here we must begin, live throughout, and end each day with awareness that we may have, even inadvertently, sinned in one or more ways. It is why the Jesus Prayer (“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.”) prayed continually throughout our day is so important – a humbling recognition of our weakness – bringing us closer to God and stronger to reject the temptation of idol worship which our culture embraces.

To make anything more important than God is to be worshiping an idol. It is essential, for holiness, that we introspectively examine the priorities we have chosen. We must not trust, obey, behave in accordance with, or follow anything or anyone before our allegiance to God. To place our faith in any anti-Christ man-made entity is to deny God. Doing so to any degree opens an individual to the influence of demonic spirits. It will diminish your empathy with those who are suffering, eliminate your God-given awareness of right and wrong, and lead you into dangerous realms for your soul.

In a pagan country such as the United States, the majority follow the gods they have made in their own image. At its core, they worship themselves. They place man’s mind and desires above God, and thus are capable of countless depravity, blasphemy, and other evils.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, KJV).

All idol worship is a result of letting the passions control oneself. Rather than giving oneself to God, a human being tries to make his decisions based on his intellect and emotions as if he knows best for himself. He then succumbs to worshiping the created thereby twisting God’s blessings and provision into sinful distortions of the truth.

A few examples common in the United States – these overlap, of course:

“Patriotism” – Nothing wrong with true patriotism (a love and courageous devotion and service to one’s people, culture, development, and protection), but what is widely accepted and practiced as “patriotism” in the USA is the antithesis of God – indeed it has become an outright worship of a country’s lies. The father of all lies, Satan, has prevailed in the United States – controlling its people by infiltrating all areas of society – family, government, entertainment, education, and churches. The popular “my country, right or wrong” attitude is prevalent among Americans. I’ve heard those calling themselves Christians espouse this with gusto – even when a matter clearly shows the USA to be in the wrong. Most Americans have made their country into an idol. Regardless of their flimsy excuses and justifications, such people are choosing Satan over God every time they support their country when it is habitually responsible for all manner of evil worldwide. One who loves God places righteousness above all else – they esteem their country only if it is evincing God’s truth, righteousness and love toward others. And, accordingly, they will not praise or defend it if it is fundamentally opposed to God (as demonstrated by its domestic and international policies). One who loves God will not overlook, diminish, or join in commission of evil their country commits, nor will they engage in mental acrobatics to try to justify praise of a country they know is in opposition to God. This will, of course, make one an at odds with most of their countrymen when living in a country like the USA which perpetrates horrible war crimes internationally and celebrates perversity and abominations domestically. Yet, we are warned, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24, KJV).

Sorcery – attempting to interact with the spiritual world’s entities while rejecting God’s revelation and incarnation through Jesus Christ. Spiritual deception describes most of the practices and worship found by Christian and non-Christians alike in this country. It is easily identified when you see those who place greater emphasis on “experience” or “feeling” than the doctrine of Christ’s teachings as found in His Church (Orthodoxy), the Bible, and the teachings of the Fathers. Emotionalism is very common in the “Christian” churches of America, as well as non-Christians seeking “spiritual” experiences. When emotions control, Satan enters. Engaging in any form of spiritual/religious practice which prioritizes human feelings over God’s instruction opens one to demonic influence and deception. It can make one feel connected to something greater, but that something greater is not God. To let oneself be carried away in wild feelings (attributing it to enlightenment or grace) is making the experience an idol. As Orthodox Christians, we struggle in our desire to evince God’s will, to evince the virtues he would have us live. Our worship is founded in His Church – not man-made practices intended to open the door to strangeness. (Within “Christian” churches in the USA this can be seen in what they call “speaking in tongues,” frantic movements, and other shows of frenzied ecstatic emotionalism. They forget that gifts of the Holy Spirit come in forms for the individual toward God and for the individual toward others– however they are to usually be edifying to the Church when publicly communicated– not a delirium void of actual interpretation benefiting not the brethren (clearly explained in 1 Corinthians:14). Manifestations of the Holy Spirit will be fruitful, not self-aggrandizing or confusing to others – they will bring comfort and peace – thus, true manifestations of that which is not understandable is minimized. Those filled with the Holy Spirit who have had mystical experiences are still able to share in an intelligible way that which they were shown. Within non-Christians, many forms of “spirituality” without God are practiced. As Orthodox Christians, we do not seek spiritual experiences for their own sake, we seek God. The spirit of anti-Christ has already deceived and will deceive many in America, preparing the way for the Anti-Christ to take the majority of the citizens of this country and other likewise deceived Western countries with him.

Ideological, social and intellectual heresy –  As a follower of Jesus Christ, no idea or person spreading ideas which are diametrically opposed to our faith should be followed after. If a pattern of thought or a person cultivating a following speaks against any fundamental Church teaching – you have all the warning you need. Sadly, many equate their self-esteem with being different and thus follow after “teachers” who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. This category of idol worship also encompasses social approval – something most Americans seek to their spiritual detriment. To remain silent, giving your acquiescence to evil, is to validate and join in it. Pride, greed, covetousness, and social conformity are powerful Satanic temptations in the USA which the vast majority succumb to daily. Arrogance in thinking that a small deviation can be had without consequences is what leads to downfall. It is very sad, tragic, to see even those who speak Orthodox truth whither away in fear when confronted with social/political/governmental disapproval. No man-made authority (be it a person, idea, group, field of study, etc.) can be the trust of a true Christian. This includes the fake god of “democracy” which is the religion the collective West uses to deceive millions worldwide, including many Christians. Illusions fill the minds of millions of Americans because they have not made truth (which is always of God) their priority.

Bodily overindulgence – Our bodies are given by God to us to accomplish His will, the mission he put us here to fulfill. We are also blessed with pleasures – perfectly acceptable to be enjoyed within God’s will. The danger lies in allowing anything outside ourselves to control us – be it food, drugs, entertainment, sex, hobbies, or any other activity which becomes more important than glorifying God and fulfilling His will for us each day. This can include any addiction, even to usage of electronic stimuli/communication/technological devices.

I delineated a few examples, but it’s a very simple truth which one need only remember: Make God’s righteousness, the development of holiness which requires love of all, your highest priority. Allow nothing to become more significant to you – permit no outside force or enjoyment to cause you to neglect loving those God has put into your life – friend, family, or foe. Your perception, regardless of how well developed your mind may be, must not make you trust in your own understanding, as if you know more than God – for therein lies the crafty lie of Satan – the same lie given to Adam and Eve for which they fell.

Corruption of an individual, corruption of a nation, occurs when God is not the priority. No one and no thing should ever come before our allegiance to God. To any degree anything is more important than God, evil enters. Worship is for God – worship of God’s creation – including yourself – is Satanic.

Your holy work is revealed to you as you pray and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance through solitude, contemplation on Christ’s teachings, communion with the Saints, the Sacraments. Discernment to separate the false from the true enters…the humility to introspectively examine one’s priorities and motivations moment by moment is a habit to be cultivated. Focus on the Creator, not the created.

To reject the idols of the Godless society surrounding you, the idols of your own desires, the idol of comforting compliance and conformity requires courage. You may be persecuted. You may suffer. You may struggle. All these and to an enormous degree, the martyrs endured. The saints are our example. We are to be strong in God. We must introspectively examine every choice we make to ensure that God is our highest priority.

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