Jump Start # 2998
Romans 1:23 “and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
My friend Kenny is both a preacher and an author. He has written a wonderful children’s book. A person from India contacted him about this book. In conversation, Kenny asked this woman what they do for Christmas. Her words were, “we worship cows.” That thought seems funny to many of us. Over here, we eat cows. Over there, they worship cows.
And, that takes us to our verse today. An exchange took place. It wasn’t an even exchange. It wasn’t even a good exchange. Paul, writing about the Gentiles, reveals that they traded God to worship an image. That image came in many forms, such as a man, a bird, a four-footed animal, and something that crawled. This wasn’t a good deal. This wasn’t something in which a person walked away thinking that they got a bargain. They were ripped off and they didn’t even know it. They gave away the best for the worst. Esau traded his birthright for a common meal and the Gentiles made even a worse trade. Lest we think how shallow and dumb these Gentiles must have been, remember it was Aaron and Israel that first made a golden calf—an image of a four-footed animal that they worshipped.
They exchanged the incorruptible God for that which is corruptible. Others phrase this:
· Immortal God for that which is mortal (NIV)
· Glory of the eternal God for an imitation image of mortal (Phillips)
· Glory of the immortal God for images that look like mortal humans, birds, animals, reptiles (CEB)
I keep thinking about that response that woman gave to my friend, Kenny, “We worship cows.” Which cow? Cows are not eternal? Cows don’t do much other than eat grass. I’ve heard of old timers plowing with horses, oxen and even mules, but never a cow. What history do we have with cows? Have they ever answered a prayer? Have they ever gotten someone through a tough day? Have they ever sent a blessing? And, eventually, the cow dies. Then what? Does that mean you god has died? Do cows transfer “godly” powers? Throughout the prophets, God mocks the foolishness of idolatry. A person cuts down a tree and with part of it he uses it to burn and make himself warm. The other part he carves and fashions into an idol in which he worships. Wonder how he knows which end of the log to burn and which end to worship? The idol, the prophets tell us, cannot hear. It cannot see. It cannot speak. It must be carried about. It has no powers. Yet, people will bow down to it, pray to it and make sacrifices to it. I expect if the cows could really talk, they’d say, “Leave us alone and let us eat grass.”
We Americans are so much smarter than that. We’d never worship a cow. Yet, are we? We worship health and fitness. Nothing wrong with exercising, however, good looks and a fit shape can be our cow that we worship. Some hit the gym and would change everything in their schedule so they wouldn’t miss a workout. This has become their church. For others, it’s money. The love of money has replaced God. They are obsessed with making money, talking about money, following money trends and reading all they can about money. Yet, for others, it’s sports. They know the ins and the outs of their favorite teams. They can tell you everything about the players, the coaches, the schedules, the rankings, the history. Sports has become their god. Others still, have replaced Jehovah with political agendas. Climate control and environmental politics have become what they worship. They are passionate about these things. They talk constantly about these things. They are obsessed with these things. And, even among brethren, there are those who leave the impression that they worship the church building. A congregation dwindles in size. No one new ever comes in. Another funeral, and the church gets smaller and smaller. They don’t have enough money to do anything,, even pay a preacher. But they hold on and hold out. Nearby are larger congregations. They have elderships, preacher, lots of kids and lots of opportunities. Would the small dwindling church thing about closing the doors and merging with the larger church? Never. NEVER. NEVER, EVER. They will hold on until the last person is taken to the funeral home. And, why? Why heat and cool a building for less than ten people? Why? Could it be that some are worshipping the building? There is no life there. There is no strong teaching there. There is no fellowship there. Yet, they hang on and wait. And, what are they waiting for? The end, I suppose.
Worshipping cows—no we don’t do that, but we have our own cows that are just as useless, hopeless and helpless when it comes to our salvation and eternal life. Common sense and Biblical principles teach us that putting your trust in horses, money, or even self is always a losing combination.
It’s about time we made another exchange. It’s time to dump all these fake and false ideas that Hollywood and our culture wants us to follow and put our trust in the One and True God of Heaven and Earth. Even in this Roman passage, Paul states, “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…” There is proof for Jehovah. There are fingerprints of God everywhere. Our own lives are a testimony to the goodness, the blessings and the love of God.
We worship cows…I’ve been to India. I’ve seen cows walking in busy streets. They are allowed to go where they want to. The doctrine of reincarnation and the worship of cows has led a multitude of people into the blindness of unbelief. Lest we think we are too smart, we must think about our own sacred cows.
Let’s get back to putting God first in our lives.