What the Message Version translates “facsimiles,” most other versions translate, “idols.” Throughout the ancient world, there are many temples dedicated to idols. Though these temples have fallen into ruin, gods such as Apollo, Venus, Bacchus, or Zeus were once worshiped there. When we consider the spiritual state of humanity, we see that, though these temples have been abandoned, the worship of these gods have not ceased.
There is the worship of Narcissus, the god who fell in love with himself. Is this not perhaps the supreme god of humanity—the worship of self? The idea that we constantly hear set forth is that humans are so tremendous, so smart, so brilliant, so clever; they can do so many things. Yet we deny the continual evidence of our senses that the world is crumbling to pieces around us. Isn't it amazing how we worship humanity? The manifestations of it find expression in the worship of race or country.
We have the worship of Bacchus, the god of pleasure, wine, women, and song; the worship of Venus, the goddess of love, enthroned in every form of media—television, movies, internet, social media outlets, books, magazines, etc.; Apollo, the god of physical beauty; Minerva, the goddess of science. Everywhere we have enthroned science.
It’s not that these things—physical love, self-esteem, personal pleasure, economic security, science—are inherently evil. God graced us with these things to add texture and fullness to our human existence. But the danger is when the things that God has graced us to enjoy become more important to us than the One who gave them. Preferring to worship the gift rather than the Giver is falling to clever facsimiles; it is idol worship.
Many think idols are relics of the past. But today in the present, what is it that makes us enthusiastic? What is it that we regard as supremely important? To what do we give our money? This is the challenge that John gives to us: “Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles.”
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