Raising Idolaters: Know The Danger
It takes no effort as a parent to teach children to worship. Children are born worshippers. It takes a great deal of grace effort, however, to raise children to be worshippers of the one true God.
John Calvin is credited with saying, “The human heart is a factory of idols…Everyone of us is, from his mother’s womb, expert in inventing idols.” God’s opposition to idolatry is not His dislike of statues and images, but His holy jealousy for worship to come only to Himself. While we and our children may not fabricate idols of wood or stone, we certainly love and pursue other things in the place of God. Hence, we all tend to idolatry. This fact is supported by the Bible’s constant attention to idolatry.
In the Old Testament, God emphatically warned Israel against idol worship (Ex. 20:1-6). Then, when they turned to idols over and over, He repeatedly judged them for their false worship (Ex. 32:7-10; Judges 2:11-16). When they continued idolatry for generations, God sent His prophets to condemn their idolatry and warn of impending judgment because of it (Micah 1:1-9). When these warnings also went unheeded, God sent His chosen people into captivity and gave them prophets who repeatedly explained that all this judgment was based on sinful idolatry (2 Kings 17:7-18). In the New Testament, God continues to warn His New Covenant people against the dangers of idols (1 John 5:21).
Our children are not born as worshippers of the one true God. In fact, they are born already turning the impulse of worship away from God and to any number of lesser substitutes. The world around us actively creates and promotes replacements for God. It provides countless substitutes for our attention and affection. And even believing parents war against indwelling sin that wants to displace God’s authority. That’s why parents especially and the church cooperatively must constantly point our children to the only One who is the rightful receiver of worship. As we continue this three-part series on raising idolaters, we’ll move from “Know the danger” to “Pay close attention to yourself” before finally considering “Run to the Gospel.”