Idols and Limping Between the Two

When Elijah confronted the prophets of Baal, he didn't just address the prophets but the people: "How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal then follow him" (1 Kings 18:21).

That's instructive, because it tells us that the people of Israel had not stopped worshipping the LORD; they hadn't abandoned him for Baal. Instead, they worshipped Baal and the LORD.

And that's the thing about idols. They're not jealous gods like the LORD is jealous. They're happy to share you, provided they have a part of you. But when they do, your loyalities are divided. Like Israel, we can find ourselves limping between two different opinions: between love for Christ and love for money. Between the humility of Christ, and the desire for power and control over others. Between finding our worth and significance in Christ and finding it in career success. And we shuffle between the two - never quite settling on either side. We combine worship of God with worship of... idols.

It's why when the Risen Jesus addresses the church in Thyatira he criticises them for tolerating 'Jezebel' (Rev 2:20). Jezebel was, of course, the patroness of the prophets of Baal, the apologist for Baal worship in Israel in Elijah's time. But in Thyatira there's another woman - her name may not be literally 'Jezebel' but she's exerting the same kind of influence over God's people in Thyatira as the original Jezebel did in Israel. That it's ok to combine worship of God with worship of idols. You can be a Christian and engage in sexual immorality, or pagan worship - and business - practices.

But Jesus says, no you can't. It's one or the other. You can't go on limping between the two. If God is God, worship him. And he is. Get that right and the sex and business practices will fall into line.