NO OTHER GODS

An exploration of the biblical theme of idolatry

 

THE NATURE OF IDOLATRY

Exodus 32:1-10

What is a good life? All major world religions and philosophical schools are in some way trying to answer this question. Jesus provides his answer to that question in the Sermon on the Mount. He articulates a vision of a life well lived and invites us into it. And in inviting us to live by the Sermon, Jesus is also inviting us to imitate him. This teaching holds pride of place among Jesus’ teachings, and in this lesson we begin a 17-week study of the Sermon.

 

THE TYPES OF IDOLATRY

Deuteronomy 4:15-19

Matthew 5:3-12 is the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Commonly known as the Beatitudes, it is a series of blessings. Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit… Blessed are those who mourn…” and so on. These blessings are not formulas, nor are they commands, but they are merely recognitions that certain ways of being in the world are truly good and blessed. This upside-down vision of the good life should challenge our assumptions about what it means to live well in God’s world.

 

THE EFFECT OF IDOLATRY

Psalm 115:1-8

The vision of the good life which Jesus articulated in Matthew 5:3-12 may be “good” but it is not necessarily pleasant. It can actually create a temptation to conceal our hope and our faith in order not to draw attention to ourselves. But Jesus immediately speaks into that temptation by reminding us who we are—we are salt and we are light. These two metaphors both speak to the need for us to bear witness to the new covenant by means of our obedience to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.

 

THE INVERSION OF IDOLATRY

The vision of the good life which Jesus articulated in Matthew 5:3-12 may be “good” but it is not necessarily pleasant. It can actually create a temptation to conceal our hope and our faith in order not to draw attention to ourselves. But Jesus immediately speaks into that temptation by reminding us who we are—we are salt and we are light. These two metaphors both speak to the need for us to bear witness to the new covenant by means of our obedience to the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount.

 
 
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