One of my students recently gave a speech about Buddhism. She showed us a statue of the Buddha which she said represents happiness. Then she placed it on the floor and knelt down in front of it to show us how she prays. As a practicing Buddhist, she says she prays every day. It’s kind of sad that she thinks a statue will give her happiness.
Every time I see a statue of a god – an idol, I wonder why anyone would think it could answer her prayers. I’ve seen a temple full of statues of Hindu gods with people kneeling at their feet bowing over bowls of food. I’ve seen a large Buddha made entirely of gold. And I’ve seen a stone with a sort of face on it dripping with chicken blood from sacrifices made by Mayan witchdoctors. When I get over the creepiness of it, I’m still puzzled.
I get that God hates idolatry. I get that idolatry steals worship from Him. He hates it so much, He made it the second commandment not to do it. But I’ve never understood why He had to, why people worship images that are clearly made out of wood and stone and metal.
These passages have helped me understand. When people don’t acknowledge God, when they won’t worship Him as God, their understanding of Him begins to get fuzzy. Their minds are confused and they make up strange ideas about Him. Then they worship their ideas instead of the true God and end up making statues to represent who they think God is. They end up with Buddha and Krishna and Mayan gods.
But there’s more to it, and that’s where I need to be careful. I doubt I’ll ever bow down at the feet of a statue. But I've been curious about other beliefs. They seem harmless and interesting. Two other speeches my students recently gave were about meditation. Meditation could help me deal with stress, help me relax. It would be easy to use the principle without using the mantra. I could focus on the name of Jesus. But, as my pastor told us this mooring, using the practices of other religions is like mixing poison with pure water. Even a little will eventually kill you.
God warned the Israelites not even to inquire into the ways the other nations worship their gods. Curiosity is the door to idolatry. Other religions have nothing to offer me. God has already told us how He wants us to worship Him.
I’m not going to tell my students they can’t give speeches about their religions. But I’m going to be more aware of what symbols and practices have seeped into the world around me and make sure they don’t lure me into idolatry.
I want to worship the glorious ever-living God.