Archaeologists and tourists alike have been horrified this week by the destruction of the ancient city of Nimrud by Islamic State Militants. This Assyrian site, situated in Iraq, dates back to the thirteenth century BC. The justification for bulldozing their way through what is regarded as part of the world’s cultural heritage is that they are destroying the false gods of history.
I wonder how we would feel if Stonehenge was destroyed, or if St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin was torn down. What about the monastery in Iona in Scotland, or the Vatican for that matter? Or the Blue Mosque in Istanbul? Or the famous statues on Easter Island?
The Christian writer and preacher, Paul of Tarsus, visited the legendary Mars’ Hill in first century Athens. Athens was well-known for its multiculturalism, and allowed statues of local and foreign gods to be erected in its market place. It was a bit like a religious supermarket, where worshippers could shop for any variety of faith they fancied. Paul’s reaction was interesting. He did not call for the idols to be broken down and thrown away. After all, he knew that they had no intrinsic value in and of themselves. Nor did Paul explain in detail what the problems were with the worship of any particular god or goddess.
Instead he used the occasion to point to who the real God is. Don’t you know, he explained, that God is not some distant figure that we reach through praying to an idol: rather God is here right now, ever present – in fact “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28 ESV). Paul did not zero in on demolishing the error, but on building the truth. It is truth, he realized, that dispels error.
Perhaps there is a lesson in this for us.
Instead of spending our time exposing and destroying false ideas, look first to Jesus and and let his grace and truth transform how people think.
Point to Jesus.
By James Henderson – published at Because