You shall not have any gods above me.
This seems pretty straightforward. But I am afraid that we in the church have been co-opted by our culture and embraced strange and foreign religions that are no longer orthodox Christianity but have been changed into something totally different by syncretism.
Syncretism: exhibits blending of two or more religious belief systems into a new system, or the incorporation into a religious tradition of beliefs from unrelated traditions.
What is challenging is that in our context, syncretism is not as blatant as simply combining other religious belief systems. That would be easy to see. We don't believe in some strange Christian / Buddhist blend religion or a Christian / Islam religion. Rather we have strange philosophical and political systems that we treat like religions and have formed a deformed version of Christianity.
In some quarters of Christendom, we have the combination of Patriotism and Capitalism combined with Christianity that has formed a civic religion and that many evangelicals have bought into.
In other quarters of Christendom, we have combined Marxism with our Christianity and formed a social justice version of Christianity that many liberal and mainline Christians have bought into.
Both of these are distortions of orthodox Christianity. And you can tell that this is the case because both movements share little in common with the classical Christian virtues that have been affirmed throughout the centuries: Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness, and Humility.
If your version of Christianity doesn't affirm these virtues or is even defined by them, then I am willing to be that you have veered off course and allowed a philosophy/religion other than Christianity inform your worldview.
I think that Patriotism/Capitalism on the Right and Marxism on the Left have infected our faith is because there is a religion that is even more covert than the blatant identification other religions or other philosophies. This subtle, yet deadly religion is one that we all long for and run after. It is a religion that only those who are most disciplined in their theology and personal reflection have any chance of combating. The religion I am talking about is hedonism.
Take a little inventory of your world, your choices, your theology, your view of others and what informs the vast majority of your decisions and worldview? I am willing to bet it is the path of most pleasure, least pain that will, hopefully, result in happiness. This is the foundational argument for just about everything in Christendom. At the end of the day, the argument that wins is the one that will lead to less pain and more happiness for me and for my people.
I would simply like to push back on the very steep and slippery slope of this attractive religion. For it sets up our pleasure, our fulfillment, and our happiness as the highest God. Instead of giving into this false god, it might be time to submit our philosophies and even our pleasure and happiness to Yahweh, the One True God. We are to have no other gods before Yahweh, and this has to include you and me.
Instead of seeking our own pleasure and happiness, instead of self-righteously condembing those who don't see the world as you do, maybe we should consider what the Apostle Paul had to say:
Rather, In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.