Today’s Scripture Selection: First John 5:21

“Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”

It’s the final sentence in a letter of encouragement and warning.  Speaking to believers – “children” in the faith – a wise teacher writes about God’s love.  He also writes about false teachers and how the faithful can so easily be led astray.  And then – one final word: watch out for idols.

Today, not many of us living in “sophisticated society” pray to little wooden gods or clay statues.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have idols

  • Careers turned into obsessions
  • Financial resources turned into consuming monsters
  • Alcohol and other “recreational” drugs that demand attention
  • Unhealthy relationships that rule our hearts and minds
  • Religion that becomes toxic and takes on a life of its own
  • Fads that demand we spend all our time; energy; and resources

I’m sure you can name a few of these false gods that demand that their “worshippers” are faithful – even when it costs those worshippers their very lives.

John’s warning to his “dear children” should be heeded by all of us who can too easily lose our way and follow someone or something other than God.

So watch carefully whom who follow – and to whom you belong.

It may prove one day to be not just a silly, old idol.

It may prove to be something much, much darker.

Prayer: Lord, keep me from idols – especially the ones that seem so harmless.  AMEN.

By Paul Simrell

The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program. Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

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