January 15, 2012

Worship God, not objects

Last Monday, classes in many Manila schools were suspended. Not because there was a natural disaster, nor because we wanted to extend the Christmas vacation for just one more day. Nay, it was the feast of the Black Nazarene.

This statue is the object of weekly masses and three annual processions [Wikipedia]. The January 9 procession is attended by millions, so much so that scores get injured or even killed in stampedes, and the government even took measures this year to avoid a potential terrorist attack.

Though some of my relatives are devotees of the Nazarene and are proud to have touched the statue themselves, the magnitude and cultural significance of it all hasn't really affected me until now. ("Really? Classes suspended for this? Terrorist threat?")

Which is why, I am all the more glad to see this reminder on our campus Facebook page:

"Do not make idols or set up an image or a sacred stone for yourselves, and do not place a carved stone in your land to bow down before it. I am the LORD your God." - Leviticus 26:1

IDOL = image, statue, object. Anything, anyone that is not God Himself.

Some people argue that they are simply "honoring" or "venerating" these reminders of God's presence. That sounds well and good. But:

(1) God Himself said, "Do not MAKE, do not SET UP."

(2) God Himself said, "Do not BOW DOWN."

Let me ask you: Why fight your way to see and touch a "reminder" of Someone who is already with you, who already saved you?

If we want to worship God, let's follow what He says. "Do not worship idols."