When I was in high school, I worked as a dishwasher and short order cook at the Newport Creamery. (It’s what we call “paying your dues” in the music world.) It always perplexed me that their slogan was “At the sign of the golden cow.” Why would a company adopt a slogan that referred to the apex of Old Testament disobedience? They even drove home the disturbing biblical allusion with an elevated golden cow on each store!
Years later, I’m struggling with The Golden Calf again. As it turns out, there is only one hymn based on Exodus 32:1-14. (We’re singing it after Jack’s sermon.) What does one do, musically speaking, with a service on the theme of idolatry? I find that sometimes the most direct approach is not the most fruitful. Rather than concentrating on the fool’s gold of idolatry, I decided to explore the complementary theme of the riches we have in Christ. We’ll be singing “Jesus, Priceless Treasure,” “Endless Riches, Endless Wealth” “Take my sliver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold,” and other lines that remind us that no human-made counterfeit could compare to what we enjoy in Christ.
Of course, idolatry isn’t as simple as gold. In fact, it appears that the Israelites’ transgression was less about worshiping other gods and more about creating a stand-in for Yahweh. We all have things in our lives that dilute our devotion to God or that attempt to make the true, living God a little more manageable. That’s bad. During this season of renewal, let’s dedicate ourselves to discerning what captivates our affections, rooting out anything that gets in the way of a whole-hearted devotion to the fullness of life in Jesus Christ.