It's true that man will always worship something. It's also true that man will not always notice or acknowledge that he is worshiping something. Those dutifully committed to the spirit of the age will blindly shackle themselves to the consequences that come from praising its demonic prince, all while casting a contemptuous eye on those whose reverence is placed in a righteous fear of God.
It's precisely this reality that the Apostle Paul articulates in his letter to the Church at Ephesus:
"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts."
Those words echoed in the chambers of my conscience as I watched CNN host Chris Cuomo offer an impotent panacea to a world on fire:
"If you believe in one another, and you do the right thing for yourself and your community, things will get better in this country. You don't need help from above – it's within us."
There was a time I would have found such self-righteous conceit off-putting. After all, the gall required to suggest that man need not appeal to any agency higher than his own mind as he seeks to navigate the grave moral questions that define our existence, is extraordinary. And beyond that, the inability to perceive the obvious inconsistency in such a childish proclamation should rightfully be humiliating.
Extremes can help us illustrate the point.
It's true that Mother Teresa was doing what she believed to be the right thing for herself and her community. But, we must acknowledge, so was Hitler.
It's true that Martin Luther King, Jr. was doing what he believed to be the right thing for himself and his community. But, we must acknowledge, so was James Earl Ray.
Without an objective standard by which we can measure what different men believe to be "the right thing," we are left precisely where Paul described us: "gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts."
In case Cuomo and others are unaware, that objective standard we need comes "from above."
But these days I don't find myself quite so ready to chide Cuomo and company for their failure to perceive this truth. They're captives to a sinful spirit, repeating the lie of the ages that has crushed human souls since the Garden of Eden: "You can be as gods."
It's evident in the pernicious taunt that a person, "can't pray away the gay."
It's apparent in the malicious mockery that "thoughts and prayers" do nothing.
It's glaring in the falsely-empowering slogan "we are the ones we've been waiting for."
In each and every one of its manifestations, the underlying premise remains the same: we are gods.
Those of us who have been delivered from this way of thinking, who have been plucked from this dead-end path winding aimlessly through moral oblivion, have a duty and responsibility to shine forth the very truth that rescued us, to those who live in darkness:
There is a God, He alone is powerful enough to "make things better," and we aren't Him.