People go to church every Sunday. Not as many as used to go but, all in all, many people go to church on Sunday. I wonder what their expectations are.

As a minister I spend my week in the Word of God. Week after week after week after week I enter the world of Scripture. What jumps off the pages is our propensity to worship idols.

I suppose a BMW or Mercedes could arguably be likened to a stone or wood idol of long ago. But, I think it is deeper than that.

Idolatry, at its basic level, is elevating anything created to a status higher than the Divine.

As I reflect further on my post of September 12 (Are We Institutional Legalists?) it occurs to me that our pursuit of righteousness through the erection, maintenance, and perpetuation of a perfectly restored institution that we call The Church of Christ could, arguably, be idolatry. If not the real deal at least a close cousin.

I mean, we all know that we have not–indeed can not–restore the New Testament Church perfectly. No matter how hard we try we are going to eventually have to admit the inevitable: what we have here is an imperfect copy.

The ONLY hope we have before a Perfect God is that His Grace and Mercy will overlook our imperfections.

He says He will overlook our imperfections on ONE condition: that we trust in His Son crucified on our behalf. Trusting in ANYTHING else is, well, it is elevating that which is human to a status higher than the Divine. It is idolatry.

So, if we are trusting in our ability to rationally reconstruct the institutional structure of the early church–getting all the externals right–in order to be right with God, how is that not idolatry?

(The early leaders of the American Restoration Movement were trying to get the externals right in order to unify all believers WHO, IN THEIR MINDS, WERE ALREADY RIGHT WITH GOD–JUST NOT RIGHT WITH EACH OTHER).

And, if we think that God is going to overlook all of our mistakes (because we are making many, right?) but not going to overlook similar mistakes being made in other, equally sincere, equally committed Christian groups trying to “go back to the Bible,” how is that not rank arrogance in its unadulterated ugliness? Such an attitude in one of my children–arrogance at his own accomplishments and disdain for those of his brother–does not provoke fatherly pride in me. It provokes my wrath!

The point of all of this rambling is this: the longer I spend in the world of Scripture the more I am convinced that I have one, primary, fundamental job to do: to warn God’s people against the dangers idolatry.

My job, however, is very easy–every passage of Scripture in God’s Word will eventually lead fallen humanity to this primordial tendency that seems to reside within our spiritual DNA.

My job, on the other hand, is extremely hazardous. The process of testing the basis of our trust–the REAL basis of our trust–is unsettling, disturbing, and deeply discomforting.

People come to church to find comfort, don’t they? Ministry is about making people feel good about themselves, isn’t it? Why does this guy have to make us think about our history? Why does this guy hate our heritage so? Why did we hire this guy anyway?