Written by Dr. David Lamb
Tuesday, 20 December 2011 00:00
The package arrived on the right day in the right size box. But it was addressed to my wife, Shannon. I hesitated to open it, knowing trouble could ensue from a prematurely opened package. But she wasn’t going to get back until tomorrow night. It was painful, but I waited. Eventually, Shannon returned, opened the box and confirmed my suspicions. My Christmas iPad had arrived and it was only December 2.
To open or not to open, that is the question. The arguments for opening it now were strong. It had arrived. If God didn’t want it to arrive early, he could have delayed its delivery. On-time arrival was clearly a sign of divine favor. God probably wanted me to use it now.
I could set it up and start getting the apps so that when Christmas arrived I could use it properly. (This argument was supplied by a colleague at Biblical.) That sounds good. After all, it could take several days to figure out this gadget and get it configured the right way.
Shannon said, “I think you should wait.” Ouch. Waiting was painful. And because it was painful, I knew she was right.
In the Old Testament, God commanded his people to sacrifice things that were important to them: grain, animals and wine. Christians today don’t typically engage in OT-type sacrifices, no burned cakes, slaughtered sheep or poured out libations. While sacrifices seem like a waste, God commands them because they put people in a place of dependence upon him. And that’s a good thing.
Waiting to open my iPad until Christmas feels like a sacrifice. (I realize I’m just waiting until I am supposed to open it, so not a big sacrifice, but it feels big.)
Sacrifices, like waiting to open a highly valued Christmas present, also defame the idol behind the present by saying it’s OK to go without. And let’s face it, technological gadgetry is a huge idol in 21stcentury American culture. People love their toys a little too much.
Here at Biblical Seminary, we emphasize missional engagement with culture, but one of the problems with cultural engagement is that it can border on idolizing culture. To check this tendency, we need to not only engage popular culture, but also to defame popular idols.
To make sure my new toy doesn’t become an idol, I’m making a sacrifice and waiting. (But no guarantees I won’t be waking up early on December 25.)
What recent examples have you seen of defaming cultural idolatries?