Of Idols and Open-Mindedness


Recently I heard an earnest ESPN radiodiscussion about idols and later that day saw an unrelated online post from a long-ago friend about open-mindedness.

The sports talk was about whether current basketball player LeBron James would ever be “idolized” to the same extent as Michael Jordan.  My long-ago friend extolled the joy of living near San Francisco where everyone is “so open-minded.”

These mixed-context scraps of cultural commentary combined to create in my mind a sort of inner forum as to how society assigns “idol” status, what exactly constitutes the state of “open-mindedness,” and how far away from Jesus Christ have drifted the central priorities of our common, modern, Western-world conversation.

Not that there is anything wrong with discussing the relative talents of great ball players; I am convinced that, as my old friend and pastor Russ Blowers used to say,“God loves to see His kids play.”  And surely, “open-mindedness” is a central tenet of the bignessof Christian love, intellect, and creativity: our eyes, ears and minds cannot conceive “what God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

My internal “forum” considered the arena where secular public beliefs are formed and paraded.  The sports radio guys probably hadn’t thought past their use of the word “idol” to its Christian definition, “things we worship that we shouldn’t.”  And the intent of the laudatory “open-minded” observation from the Bay Area was certainly social, not theological; a slap at Midwestern values, maybe, but not a faith statement.

Still, it’s undeniable that sports and entertainmentcelebrities really are idols spuriously worshipped by much of our culture.  And if there is a spurious characterization of Christians that my own experience tells me is utterly untrue, it is that active faith in Christ does anything other than open up one’s mind to the enormity of God’s creation.  The cultural opposite is to confine our minds to the miniscule and transitory frailty of human experience, social comforts, and pyrrhic, man-made glory.

If we don’t have Christ front, center, covering, and eclipsing everything else we do, the world may consider us “open-minded” but the truth is, we are chasing idols.

Moody Bible Institute senior pastor Erwin Lutzer sermonized that “the culture war has already been lost.”Perhaps that’s a tad pessimistic, but the Bible does say that even though Christ came for everybody, true Christian faith would always be the province of the minority (Luke 13:22-30, Ephesians 3:4).  Broad culture, historically and scripturally, is a tough audience for Christ.

Thankfully, unlike culture, Jesus will never be lost.  Our job is to keep track of Him, worship Him, and keep a divine open mind about Him.