Novelty and Sentimentality

Last Sunday I preached from 2 Kings 18-19 talking about the first part of Hezekiah's legacy as a king of Judah. It's a great story about a young king who started extremely well.

Early in his leadership, 2 Kings 18 says Hezekiah removed all the high places, stone altars, and Asherah poles that had been built in the 150 years or so since David. As the generations since David tried to find new ways to worship they drifted into full-fledged idolatry, opting to worship like the rest of the world rather than to stand apart.

But newfangled worship wasn't the only form of idolatry Hezekiah took on. He also broke up the bronze snake left over from Moses' ministry in Numbers 21. In the years since Moses, the snake had gone from being an object that pointed toward God to a sentimental reminder of old times, to an object of worship itself. I can only imagine the ire of the "churchladies" as Hezekiah smashed their tradition.

It strikes me that the idol of novelty and the idol of sentimentality are both ever-present in our own worship and are both equally dangerous. When we allow something designed to point our focus toward God to become the focus, whether for the sake of being cutting edge or hanging on to the past, we are in dangerous territory.

If a style of music, translation of Scripture, children's program, ministry philosophy, or any other thing gets to the point that we are unable to worship without it, it's probably time to learn a lesson from Hezekiah and start chopping down poles or breaking up snakes.

We have to move forward and we have to look backward, but never at the expense of looking upward.


Warren Cheely said...

amen dude. strong words. thanks for the encouragement this morning