Let’s discuss idolatry for a moment, shall we?
Before we dive in too far, I apologize if I appear to be coming off a bit too strong. No, I’m not trying to point fingers. Instead, I am trying to point to a higher calling of unity—even if we are completely right about our theology.
Let me make it clear. I respect theologians. I enjoy the teachings of many Reformed teachers, and a good number of Pentecostal teachers. I believe Scripture is sufficient for our foundation and fully believe that Christ alone brings our salvation. I will not bend on these truths, but I also believe in showing grace to those in error.
Idolatry is a big deal to God the Father. He is a gracious Father and loves his own—even when we don’t love him. But when it comes to idolatry, God isn’t too fond of being your or my second best.
So what is idolatry? A simple search pulls up admiration, worship, reverence of someone or something else. In the Bible, God simply says not to have any other gods before him. Seems easy enough, doesn’t it? However, we in the Church today, like the ancient Israelites, have idols that need to be knocked over and destroyed. One such idol being that of the intellect. Some call it the Cage Stage, some call it being religious, others call it being a sound theologian. Some call it being a Pharisee. By whatever name, it needs to be destroyed. How do we destroy it?
We need theology. We need to study about God, and we need to have basic knowledge of who he is and who we are to him. However, a good number of us are guilty of searching through the Scriptures because in “them” we think we have eternal life, and we refuse to go to Christ the real life-giver. We sit at our keyboards, or next to the water coolers at work, waiting for someone, anyone, to misquote a Scripture verse.
And when they are wrong, we come out arms swinging, particularly at those who dare claim Jeremiah 29:11 was written for them. But God does, in fact, have a hope and a future for us. That hope is found in glory.
To whom God was pleased to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
So theology matters. Without a proper study and knowledge of God, we wouldn’t have any idea what our identity is in him or why God would send his Son to die on a cross for our sins. Without sound theology, we wouldn’t know our sins have been washed clean and we have been made a new creation in Christ.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for us. But we need to humble about it. Without humility, we are nothing more than intellectual snobs. Pushing our brothers and sisters in Christ further and further into error. Scripture warns us that it is harder to win a brother over than a strong city (Proverbs 18:19). So let us keep in mind what the apostle Paul writes in Romans and strive to show more grace and love to others:
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
-Romans 12:9-18 (ESV)