“My little children, guard yourselves from idols”, 1John 5:21 

This verse may mislead many a person in many different ways. One of them is to assume John is addressing whoever is not reading it and to whom one must get to preach. By assuming for us the words “My little children”, one must also appropriate to oneself the rest of it. We should not take the words for us as are most convenient.

If one knows that John the apostle was a man who meant just what he said, or maybe more than what he said, one should assume that this verse is the strangest one to end an epistle with. By using the word “my children” in here and to link them to idols, is but amazing enough to have one wonder about it. If we assume some words as truth from this epistle stating at least twice in previous verses that “whoever sins is of the devil”, he gives a certain meaning to the word “Children” in here which we might not find ourselves prepared to receive either. By "Children" he means people who sin not. By “Children” he means “like Him, like Christ, like the life the apostles shared in, themselves”.  I am pretty sure the apostle would not address the majority of Christians today that way. He would not call them Children if he would to remain a while with them, if he would remain truthful towards his standards of Life still. Would John call on you as “My child”, perhaps?

Now, by guessing what he means through “My Children”, one has but to wonder how can such holy people be warned against idolatry in their minds. This cannot possibly mean image or devilish worship, since those would always be the first things to lay down then, in such powerful revivals as those the apostle had. There must be something else in here towards which we should set our hearts to find out about.

Prayer, bible reading, preaching even, can become idols unto us. Not praying, not reading the word of God, not preaching can be turned into idols just as well. If we behold the stars in heaven, we magnify God if our heart is set on honesty and wonder. I wonder quite often just how great God must be to do all I see and even more in six single days. It is just too wonderful to take notice of it. But, as such thoughts and wonderings lead me to think higher up, to take hold of my full imagination towards the Creator of them, thoughts and wondering about God, I just know there are people in certain parts of the world who worship what they see in the skies instead. I mean, the things God has made is not leading them to God but are taken as gods instead. This is idolatry. In the same way, prayer and all Christian duties and activities which do not turn our hearts, soul and mind to the reality of a Living God, is nothing but idolatry according to Bible standards. It is like corn: if we get the grain, the chaff which brought it unto us is set aside.

We read Samuel addressing Saul and saying something like this: “For rebellion is sin like witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idol-worship”, 1Sam.15:23. I have seen many a person being stubborn because they know lots about their Bible and doctrine; I have seen many saying God has said something and even becoming stubborn about whatever they say because these state they prayed for a long time to get to it, somehow, as if God needs hours to say some little thing; I have seen people stating truth without being truthful themselves, praising while having sin in their midst, somehow, singing about holiness and about being made whiter than snow and being still bound to some sins and bondages of self. There is no end to the ways deceit can use in a mind, for it uses the very things of God to mock God, just as much as Nebuchadnezzar’s son, Belshazzar, would use God’s vessels to drink wine before his gods.

Do your Christian duties and works bring you nearer to a living God, or does it make you serve it all the more and all the better even to the point of dashing to pieces little ones who might just be looking around for a most living God instead of a church’s ways, oratories, conferences and practices? What motives, what aspiration do you have by kneeling down, by worshipping Christian? Is happiness of soul the motive behind your devotions? Is it so cheap a thing for you to deal that way with a Living God?

Most Christians who are genuine, as soon as God made something clear unto them, they are found to be unable to recall the details of it, since what God said in secret brought something about within them which proves to be what God intended to achieve all along, through His words and means. Imagine Moses not getting away from the red sea into the obedience of a desert simply because it opened up at his little touch! Miriam was bewildered and sang; Moses was waiting for her to finish so they could get going and obey God further. The red sea did not become an idol to him at all.

There are images of God in our minds which prevent God to become real unto us as well. We have all details about how God is, what the doctrines are and how loving Jesus must be unto us. Yet, these are but images we may have a need to do away with quickly, for we read, “Thou shalt not make any image of what is above in heaven”. God must be real, or the thoughts about Him, even truthful ones, are as good as idolatrous practices. Any thought or knowledge which does not lead to the reality of a Living God, is useless and sinful eventually.

Then, there are the fantasies about ourselves we easily fulfil. Beauty and beauty shops, clothes and such things are often magnified and stuck in our beings and life style, and turn themselves into stubborn issues, somehow. People may spend hours thinking and reasoning what and how to buy something to wear a certain day of the week or of the year, yet neglect a minute with the most important being there is: a Living God. There is such stubbornness stuck within that makes people walk their own way and mind their own business and vanities and even pray that God will bless them while doing it. Stubbornness is idolatry.

The way people deal with men of God is also something to think about quickly and with nerves not to feel guilty about any of it. Men of God are quite often put high up in the minds of people, so much so that God is blurred and used as the means to serve and admire man. Whoever admires someone who breathes like him, loves himself and hopes after admiration himself. Any man, any Christian, any Bible, any prayer which does not bring one closer to God is fantasy serving. “My little children, guard yourselves from idols”, 1John 5:21. Amen.

Back to messages-index

José Mateus