Tag Archives: idolatry

Idols hmmmm, really? Tells me to remember who’s really in charge!

I am the pastor of First Saint Johns Church in York, Pa. First Saint Johns (FSJ) was completed in 1875, as you can see from the featured image, the altar, and the rest of the sanctuary are very nice and very reverent.

There are those who I have showed the sanctuary to and felt that there was just “heavens, too much idolatry”. Rather amuses me. I’ve been in a lot of sanctuaries where you might truly wonder what the space is actually used for. By looking at this picture, there should be little doubt what or, better, Who this space is about. It’s all about Jesus and the people who built his sanctuary 140+ years ago knew it.

The altar is especially interesting in that it shows the most important aspects of who and what Jesus is all about. Underneath the flat part, called the mensa, is a lamb, shows that Jesus is the Lamb of God. Next is a crucifix, reminding us that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. Next is Christ ascending to glory in heaven. The top stained glass window shows Jesus as Lord of all creation, at the right hand of God the Father.

The stained glass windows on the sides have various Christian symbols and at the top is one of the apostles.

People have actually told me how idolatrous this is??? Yet I can go into an old Quaker, Calvinist, etc churches and honestly wonder what’s going on there. I can go into a lot of “community”, “independent”, etc and see no indication that I’m in what purports to be a “Christian” sanctuary. There is a lot of symbology on the altar and on the stained glass at FSJs. A lot of visual reminders of what we believe and Who we hold important. Over the ascending Jesus is the motto “Sola Deo Gloria”, yea wow, “To God only the glory”, yikes that’s a first commandment buster, right?

Why do people really object to this? Why do they prefer to have a “church” that is essentially void of anything that is Christian? I would submit that especially with all the “big-box” non-denominationals, that it’s really more about those in the church preferring to kind of push aside all the Jesus stuff. Yea, they sing about Jesus and kind of preach about Him. But it’s not really about Him, if it was why is there a problem about having a lot of visual reinforcement.

My answer. In the world today it’s all about me, what’s good for me. Well Jesus is good for you, the only and ultimate good. But too many people don’t see it that way. Today’s culture says: I don’t want to be reminded of all that Jesus stuff, if I’m here I’m worshiping what I want, “ooo that gory crucifixion stuff”. Well that’s a whole big subject, and well we just shouldn’t have to do that, just make me happy God. I showed up, I should get the big payoff. Doesn’t work that way folks. It is all about God and not about you. That’s why we have all these reminders to reinforce that in us when we are in true worship, lifting up and praising God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

People who built these great old churches understood that and when I stand in front of the altar here I know exactly what and especially Who it’s all about. It’s why we at First Saint Johns are serious about what we do and why we do it, it’s for Jesus who sacrificed all for us and we will be His for all eternity. So instead of mouthing silly platitudes and not thinking about what is important, let’s all do some serious thinking about what and Who is ultimately important. I have all these beautiful and compelling reminders here, maybe it’s time for you to think about why this is all important.  Sanctuary 140th anniversary

More devolved or further away from God?

Someone responded to a post of mine, which was critical of evolution. I grew up mindlessly accepting the secular gospel, that evolution is just a given, a scientific fact and did not give it another thought. The writer/respondent wondered if instead of “evolving”, we were really “devolving”. In some ways man has, in some sense, become better. But in so many ways, the things that are truly important, we have become more depraved, more alienated, more fixated on the true object of our affection, that being “me, myself and I”.

Obviously evolution is a rather pitiful attempt to deny God and to create some kind of phoney paradigm where, given enough time over “millions and millions of years”, that somehow, completely by chance, an incredibly sophisticated environment, would create incredibly sophisticated beings, all by complete chance. (Unless of course you believe the outside of the evolution fringe which tries to convince us aliens came here and started the human race, if not the entire ecosphere. That of course begs the question how aliens came about, but the evolution fringe element really doesn’t go that far, and frankly doesn’t seem to think that deeply.) Most real scientists today are rejecting Darwinian evolution and are growing in their perception of a design of the universe that is more and more incredibly complicated. The idea that says that this happened all by accident is becoming more and more discredited.

I am certainly not anti-intellectual, but those who pose as “intellectuals”, seem to more and more be anti-intellectual. There seems to be this element that thinks that education is more of an indoctrination, a learning of essential facts in order to continue to maintain the status quo, instead of what true science is, which is to continue to question, There is not supposed to be a science orthodoxy, a faith system that dictates that these are “facts” and not to be disputed. But there certainly is a scientism faith system. At least a deistic system (like Christianity)provides for some kind of tangible reality of creation. But the evolution, fringe element, moves even more to the fantastic, when it’s high priest, if not Pope, Stephen Hawking decides ex cathedra, that obviously there has always been gravity and that is what continues to pull the universe together and kicks off the whole “Big Bang”. I’m not opposed to the “Big Bang”, if God chose to use that as His method of kicking off the universe great! What better way than in an incredible flash of light that rocketed out from a tiny bit of mass. But to say that it was somehow always present and self- perpetuating is a faith system that demands a great deal more faith than God the Father of our Lord Jesus, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

God created us to be perfect, we, represented by Adam, decided, that what He did wasn’t good enough, we wanted more and basically Adam waved God off and said, no it’s all about me and what I want. That is the break in our relationship with God. From there sin did and continues to break us down, drive us further from Him, because more and more it’s all about us. So yes, we are “devolvoing” in the sense that we are moving farther away from God and making ourselves an idol. The farther we are from the Father, the more it’s about us, the more debased we become and yes, more like a “survival of the fittest” versus the love for the Father being projected on all those around us and from us to everyone else. The whole evolution argument is about us justifying that it’s about us and that God doesn’t matter. We find out who does, because the farther we are away from Him, the more debased, sinful we become the less human and compassionate and more about me. We can either realize how far we’ve fallen and strive for reality of Jesus. Or we can keep tanking and wonder why things have become more evil.

Our God is very much a living God, to quote the Newsboys “God’s not dead He’s surely alive, He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion”. He roars to give us the integrity, courage, strength to live a life that truly worships and strives to serve a completely holy, perfect, sanctified God. He made all creation so that we could live as very complicated beings in an environment that supports us. We continue the intellectual challenge of understanding His creation and also Him, in order that we might grow to be more like Him, and not to be about what it is that I want, what I decide is important. When we grow towards God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit we don’t “evolve”, but we become more like Christ. That’s our true goal, we’re not going to evolve that way, it’s going to be about having the faith that God gives us to trust what the Holy Spirit is doing in us and to proceed out into the world in God’s will, not ours.