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No Graven Images

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image . . .
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them . . .

—Exodus 20:4,5

In the fourth chapter of St. Matthew’s Gospel, Satan tempts Jesus with the offer of “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them.”  This is the third of his temptations, and perhaps the one that was the most difficult to resist, for he was tempting the Savior to take a quick shortcut to possess what He would gain through suffering, death, and resurrection.  Jesus answered, “It is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10).  Today, the Christian Church that survived war and persecution is in an unanticipated danger, the danger of being “surfeited with dainties,” to use Calvin’s colorful expression.  Having withstood the lash, She is suffocating under toys and delicacies.  Idols of the past were often cruel; today, they are sweet.  It has been centuries since those of us in what used to be called Western Christendom have been tempted to worship graven images.  Today, however, millions of us have bowed down and served other idols of human making.

There is a hymn in the old Harvard College hymnal with the lines, “Deep sands of time divide thy golden days from mine, / Thy voice comes strange o’er years of change,...

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