In yesterday’s article, we asked, “Why do people follow other gods?“, and came up with some possible answers.
What good does it do to ask this question, though? For one thing, I believe that if we understand what draws us away from Jehovah God, then we can resist those temptations with truth. In addition, when we understand what draws others away from Him, we can help them fight their battles.
So, what does the Bible (the word of Jehovah God) say with regard to reasons that people follow other gods?
For those who believe that their god will bless them, Jesus enumerated multiple blessings in the Beatitudes (read Matthew 5:1-12), and offers His followers an abundant life (John 10:10). See also Ephesians 1:3. Regardless of what empty promises may be made by false gods today, God provides uncountable blessings.
There you will worship man-made gods of wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or eat or smell.
Deuteronomy 4:28 NIV
For those who believe that their god gives them power, the true God created all that we see, and has the ability to do what He chooses with it (see Romans 1:16, 20). No matter the claims of other gods, none of them can usurp God’s power. And, we find that when we have the “power” to do whatever we want, we learn that we do not have the power to control the consequences of those choices. The results of living to serve ourselves range from unfulfilling to disastrous. We are not qualified to wield power beyond what God delegates to us.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV
For those who just try to fit in so that others will like them, Jesus reminds us of a more important perspective in Luke 12:4-5. Life is not about popularity or even just prolonging our corporeal existence. There is supposed to be much more to our existence than seeking the transient applause of men, but this isn’t a new problem, as illustrated in John 12:42-43.
And, when we are honest, many things that may be popular or earn us passage into the “in crowd” aren’t a great idea. Just ask anyone who started smoking (or other vices) through peer pressure, and hates their addiction today.
He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.
Luke 16:15 NIV
And, for those who think that following certain gods is more fun, remember who invented all good things in the first place (see James 1:16-17). I think that the idea that following Jesus is somehow difficult or restrictive is perhaps one of the biggest lies of the enemy (see Titus 3:3-7). Jesus offers freedom, even as His commandments guide us into a life that is more fulfilling: one that is better for both us and society at the same time.
For one thing, every other god has a litany of rules that binds its adherents. Someone who thinks that they can follow another god and everything will be easier is buying into demonic “marketing”. Historically, the worship of false gods has required their worshipers to sacrifice children, or to harm themselves, and today’s gods are often little better (even if they are less obvious about the damage that they cause to adherents and to others).
Even with “secular” gods, there is a high burden. For those who live to receive the approval of others, the constraints on their decisions are nearly infinite and ever-changing. For those who serve money or power, investments and positions must be continually attended to, lest they lose value or be eliminated. Even those who live according to their selfishness must keep going out and doing the things that make them feel better, while staving off the negative consequences of short-sighted choices.
By contrast, Jesus said that his “yoke” was light (see Matthew 11:28-30). In His day, “yoke” was a term for the teaching of a rabbi. Since Jesus was also a rabbi (and much more), He had instructions for His followers, but these were far simpler than the legalism of the Pharisees.
So, think carefully about who you serve, and what draws you away from a better life. Taking this inventory, and then taking action based on what you find, could very well help you – and others who you love – eliminate lies that seek to bind us and keep us from moving forward. And, if you need a regular reminder, memorize Colossians 2:8, where Paul made this point better than I could!
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.