The Blog: Pastor Parsley's Personal Blog Pastor Rod Parsley

Modern-Day Idol Worship

4/1/2014 10:00:00 AM — I'm convinced that the reason the Holy Ghost has taken over our worship services at World Harvest Church so often this year is because He knows He can. That's not to say that He can't do whatever He wants, or that He doesn't work different ways in different houses of worship, or that He isn't present in our preparations for worship. But lately it's unusual if our worship service resembles the outline our team prepares beforehand.

We have been focused on transformation this year – which for a non-Christian means salvation, and for the Christian means sanctification, what John Wesley called "moving on toward perfection." Last Sunday, the Holy Ghost transformed us with a reminder that God the Father is a jealous God. He won't tolerate our worship for anything or anyone else, including situations of our own making.

Remnant, the dance troupe at Valor Christian College, had ministered its interpretation of "Clear the Stage," a song written by worship pastor Ross King more than a decade ago and recently recorded by Jimmy Needham. More powerfully than any song I've come across in recent memory, it's a bold call for believers to turn away from idols and reserve their worship for God alone:

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that's the measure you must take to crush the idols
Jerk the pews & all the decorations, too
Until the congregations few, then have revival

Tell your friends that this is where the party ends
Until you're broken for your sins, you can't be social
Then seek the Lord & wait for what He has in store
And know that great is your reward so just be hopeful

'Cause you can sing all you want to
Yes, you can sing all you want to
You can sing all you want to
And still get it wrong;
Oh, worship is more than a song

Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the Word and put to test the things you've heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken

We must not worship something that's not even worth it
Clear the stage, make some space for the One who deserves it

Anything I put before my God is an idol
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol
And anything I can't stop thinking of is an idol
And anything that I give all my love is an idol

'Cause I can sing all I want to
Yes, I can sing all I want to
And we can sing all we want to
And still get it wrong;
Worship is more than a song

Clear the stage and set the sound and lights ablaze
If that's the measure you must take to crush the idols

It's hard to describe what happened next. Perhaps the best thing you can do is see for yourself. The service left most of us in the tabernacle "wrecked," and that's a good thing.

Students of Scripture know that God has no tolerance for idols:
"'I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
"'You shall have no other gods before me.
"'You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."
- Deuteronomy 5:6-10, ESV

"'Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the Lord, a thing made by the hands of a craftsman, and sets it up in secret.' And all the people shall answer and say, 'Amen.'"
- Deuteronomy 27:15, ESV
When it comes to idols, it seems to me, we don't much bother with carved and cast metal images anymore (though the way some men maintain their sports cars might qualify). Our idols these days are more socially acceptable – they are things like jobs, spouses, children, churches or a style of worship. They are not bad in and of themselves, but they become idols when they become the objects of our affection. Any of them can occupy the throne room of our hearts, relegating God to the guest room. The problem with that is, the God we serve will not accept second place in our lives.

The late Nazarene pastor and publishing executive Bob Benson once made an interesting comment on the parable Jesus told about a man who built his house on the rock and another man who built a house on sand. He noted that in that story, the rock is the Word of God, but He never says what the sand is. Benson suggests, correctly in my estimation, that the sand is….everything else, even some good things.

"Consciously or unconsciously, people's lives begin to polarize around some area of life," Benson writes in his 1977 book "Something's Going On Here." "There is the job, the home, family, church. These areas do provide parameters for life. They have meaning that keeps us going. But somehow they must be enjoyed with the constant realization that they are sand…I'm a family man and I think that family relationships are the purest, cleanest, whitest sand of all. That sand has the least trash and is the best place of all to enjoy the sunlight of God's love. But it is sand."

And sand can wash away from underneath you. That's the problem with idols. No matter how real they seem, they're of man, and that means they can, and will, fail you.

Pure worship requires the destruction of idols, even the idols we have come to love and treasure. We went a long way toward doing that at World Harvest Church this past week.

What idols in your life need destroyed?