The following true accounts illustrate the consequences of placing worldly things above God in our lives:. As he became more successful, he lost his testimony. This has affected his entire family. He worshipped money, and now he is cursed with it. Her obsessions later ruined her marriage and were passed on to her children. In time, she realized she needed to change her life. She came back to the Church and eventually went to the temple.
But the damage was already done. Her worship of graven images is reflected in the way her children are living their lives. Key to countering the influence of modern images is keeping our hearts centered on God. The allure of the ocean returned, and I faced the challenge of controlling the time I spent in the water.
It was easy for me to worship the ocean, the waves, and the freedom I felt while surfing. I made the necessary adjustments to put surfing in its proper position in my life as a fun hobby and rewarding physical exercise.
C. S. Lewis on the Theology and Practice of Worship
In such instances, it is not necessarily the activity that is detrimental; the challenge is one of balance. These blessings are ours to enjoy, but when our participation slips into excess, we slip into sin. Abraham is an excellent example of one who, though blessed with material wealth, kept these gifts in proper perspective.
He was able to do so because he gave his whole heart to Jehovah. Despite such a background, Abraham remained faithful. Because he had actively embraced the gospel, he was able to acquire the greater blessings of the priesthood. While her feet were traveling the path away from Sodom and Gomorrah, her heart must have remained attached to the images she left there.
By looking back, she lost everything. See Gen. We cannot serve God and graven images at the same time. Embracing the gospel requires singleness of purpose. It means that we reach for the fruit of the tree of life without making secret reservations in the great and spacious building across the way. See 1 Ne. The abundant life, he advertises, is measured by the amount of images one has. This is only idol worship in disguise.
Selected Messages Book 2 — Ellen G. White Writings
We can eat, ski, and be merry; eat, climb the corporate ladder, and be merry; eat and do anything at the expense of giving our complete dedication to God and be merry; for in the end so we are told there is no real consequence. Idol worship gratifies present desires and keeps people from seeking eternal riches. Idol worship takes our minds off God. Brigham Young offered one remedy:.
What for? To keep us in remembrance of our God and our holy religion. Is this custom necessary? See 2 Ne. A savior is one who saves; a rock is an immovable object; a shepherd is one who nurtures his flock; and so forth. Feasting upon such images separates our minds from the alternate images Satan would have us worship and imitate. It is a person or thing very much like another, a copy or counterpart. Likewise, countenance does not simply mean a facial expression or visual appearance. Sons of men are sons of the world, and they give heed to worldly things.
Not realizing their divine heritage, they give up their birthright to worship the images of the world. Sons of God, however, know that they are heirs to a celestial future and can thus envision heavenly riches. This vision helps them to worship only God and to follow his path. The reason seems clear. The only power to save mankind from sin lies with God.
Any false worship, therefore, cuts the sinner off from that power. The Old Testament policy of not tolerating idol worship should be a model for us today. The Israelites were commanded not to bow down or serve idols. They were to break them, burn them, abhor them, and detest them.
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See Ex. When we worship things of this world, we rob God of our safe return to his presence. The Lord will not grant exaltation with those who have followed gods that cannot save. The solution is to prioritize our loyalties and turn our affections back to God. A student wrote:. Rather, he spent more and more time trying to get money. It seemed as though he worshipped money, spending all his time and resources to get more. But all of a sudden our family started to be together more.
In , Lewis was invited to attend the confirmation and first holy communion of his goddaughter, Sarah Nylan. Lewis was unable to attend but penned her a letter with counsel about her mindset and expectations when partaking of communion for the first time:. You may, of course: but you also may not. The things that are happening to you are quite real things whether you feel as you wd.
Worship in Spirit and Truth
Our Lord will give us right feelings if He wishes—and then we must say Thank you. Lewis went on to assure his goddaughter that this is one of the few subjects upon which he feels he knows something. It is only in the last year or two that things have begun to come right—which just shows how important it is to keep on doing what you are told. Lewis points to 1 Corinthians as an example, where Paul prefers understandable and therefore edifying prophecy more than speaking in unknown tongues that are unintelligible to others. Based on this Pauline principle, should the church forbid unintelligible music that is incomprehensible to the understanding of the congregants?
Lewis rejects the comparison for three reasons. First, tongues were probably not glorifying to God on account of their aesthetics but rather due to their miraculous nature, involuntary expression, and ecstatic state. The first is absolute and equal across a group, while the second is not absolute and is not equally incurable. Finally, the alternative to a foreign tongue is an intelligible language, whereas most of the time the alternative to learned music is popular music, which amounts to giving people what they want.
Lewis, for his part, doubts that church members are truly edified when they are allowed to shout out their favorite hymns a common practice in some low-church settings. What I, like many other laymen, chiefly desire in church are few, better, and shorter hymns; especially fewer. So he is willing to offer admittedly tentative suggestions as to the way in which church music, if it must be used, can please God or help to save the souls of men.
First, Lewis judges that both camps—the high brows and the low brows—overestimate the spiritual value of the music they prefer. Neither excellence nor enthusiasm signifies specifically religious activity. Second, Lewis articulates the attitudes that should be adopted by both high- and low-brow practitioners and proponents:. One is where a priest or an organist, himself a man of trained and delicate taste, humbly and charitably sacrifices his own aesthetically right desires and gives the people humbler and coarser fare than he would wish, in a belief even, as it may be, the erroneous belief that he can thus bring them to God.
The other is where the stupid and unmusical layman humbly and patiently, and above all silently, listens to music which he cannot, or cannot fully, appreciate, in the belief that it somehow glorifies God, and that if it does not edify him this must be his own defect. In this way, there will be a means of grace to hearers even through music they have both disliked.
It is an offer and sacrifice of taste. Lewis is aware that in offering this perspective he is providing little practical help, but the problem, he cautions, is never merely musical. For Lewis, the primary purpose of music coincides with the fundamental purpose of the universe: the glory of God. He counsels those like him to maintain a posture of learning and intelligent listening. It is jealousy, arrogance, suspicion, and the wholly detestable species of conservatism which those vices engender.
Lewis acknowledges that it is more difficult for him to provide counsel for musicians. He returns to the question of how we may glorify God. Lewis observes that all natural agents glorify their Creator by continually revealing the powers he has granted them. As humans, both our good actions and evil actions thus glorify God in a certain sense. For all our offerings, whether of music or martyrdom, are like the intrinsically worthless present of a child, which a father values indeed, but values only for the intention.
Every service is a structure of acts and words through which we receive a sacrament, or repent, or supplicate, or adore. As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling.