Teeny Idols

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There are two kinds of loyalty, one good and one bad. If you are fiercely loyal to your family, to your nation, to your church, or doctrinal traditions, and that loyalty results in you maintaining (emotionally, if not actually) that the object of your loyalty could never do wrong, or be in the wrong, then your loyalty has become idolatrous. We think of Stephen Decatur’s famous toast, “My country, right or wrong.”

But there are too many who think that the need to avoid idolatry means that they should cultivate a detachment from the bonds that surround us on every side. In the name of avoiding idolatry, they become ingrates. They think that any degree of loyalty means that we have given way to idolatry. Of course, because God has created us in a such a way that loyalty is inescapable, such a person is fiercely (and idolatrously) loyal to his own opinions. He has forgotten that Decatur’s full toast was, “My country, may she always be in the right, but my country, right or wrong.” A patriotism blind to faults is not really patriotism at all.

When God has placed you in a position where your family, or your denominational tradition, your tribe, your nation, has fallen into sin, this means that loyalty sets about to correct the sin with a sense of identification and affection. If the only affection you feel is to your own opinions, then that does not mean that you have avoided idolatry; it means that you are just a fusser and that, in contrast with the folks you so look down on, your idol is much smaller than theirs. In fact, it is teeny.

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