World's Greatest Idol
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 by Frank Shortt
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        If one were asked, “What is the greatest idol in the world?” There would be a myriad of answers. Some would say it is capitalism. Some would say materialism. Others would say some movie star, or great world leader.
        The most obvious idol in the world is the one most prominent in every city in the world! This is the one that takes up the most time, collects the most money, offers little, and is on practically every corner, or being built on every corner, in every city in every nation. Even though their coffers are always full, they can never get enough, and they do not pay a cent in taxes to support great causes that make life easier for mankind. Of course, they do not mind lending their name to any welfare program going on in the community! Each ardent person attending these man-made structures proclaims, “Ours is the way to salvation!”
        Throughout history men have built these great edifices thinking that somehow God can be contained in a building built by man’s hands and dedicated to whatever God that men decide is the true God. These buildings are built of wood, stone, precious metals, glass, and have been overlaid in pure gold. People elect, or appoint, well-spoken leaders of these edifices to insure the upkeep of them and to assure that the leaders are well paid and ride the most expensive vehicle in the community. This somehow shows that by being associated with the great edifice that great prosperity reigns. Sometimes individuals build these houses of their God and tell the local people that his is the only place to worship and that all the others are leading them down the paths of unrighteousness. Does this all sound familiar?
        These buildings are called synagogues, mosques, cathedrals, churches, chapels, Churches of Christ, Churches of God, Faith Temples, or whatever reflects the particular brand of religion the leaders have to offer. You can bet that the one with the most influence in a community will be the most prominent site in the city, or will be soon. Giant spires can be seen projecting above the hovels and tent cities of the poor. Is this supposed to be a beacon of hope to the down-trodden and outcasts of society? No, they are an idol of worship taking even the ‘widow’s mite’ and giving little in return. When will men realize that these wonderful cold, stone idols are not the true Temple of God? When will they realize that their historical leaders sat on hillsides, under trees, and proclaimed that the True Temple is the heart of mankind? Meanwhile, these wonderful structures sit idle for the most part of the week, with only vermin to occupy them, seeking for a crumb that might have been left by revelers playing bingo to pay for these wonderful constructions. Men can be heard to say, “Boy, we have the softest seats in town. The mayor comes to our congregation. Our pastor is the greatest orator since Julius Caesar! Our stained-glass windows outshine them all!” The same rhetoric repeats in each successive generation!
        Developing religions were usually founded by men who saw a vision that they felt would be of help to individuals as they struggled to maintain these earthly temples. These men lived in caves, met in catacombs, lived lives of poverty and degradation, and suffered great hardship placed on them by the established rulers at the time. They were burned at the stake, eaten by lions, ridden out of town on a rail, crucified, tarred and feathered, and lived in danger of their lives at every turn. This is a far cry from the religious leaders of today. Some men, of high prominence in a certain religion, will not even visit a city unless they are guaranteed millions of dollars in advance. Their visits are to somehow stir up the people to higher goals. They claim that thousands accepted their brand of religion as they pounded the book of their particular creed. After they leave, there is nothing left but for the poor janitors to clean up the mess of unthinking worshippers. They idly left their food wrappers and drink cups lying where they sat. If that particular great evangelist would return a year later he would not find one person who strictly adhered to all his teaching. People love to be entertained, even if for a moment.
        Still, there they remain! these wonderful structures that men give their life’s blood to maintain. If Jesus, Mohammed, Ghandi, Moses, Martin Luther, John Wesley, and a host of other religious leaders, who lent their name to causes, could see what man, left to his own devices, has built as memorials to them, they would turn over in their graves!
What is the greatest idol in the world? Anything that replaces the true temple!