June 14 - The Danger of Syncretism

After the division of the kingdoms, Jeroboam reintroduced the golden calves from the time of Exodus when Aaron permitted the people to make them and called them by God’s name. It was a typical syncretism, combining the invisible God with the visible created things, joining God Almighty with idols in clear violation of the Ten Commandments. The first commandment has to do with monotheism, that God is One and Only. He will not share His glory with another for He is a jealousy God. All worship of God when combined with others is a serious sin of idolatry.

The sin of Jeroboam, son of Nabat, is mentioned again and again for Jeroboam led the whole Northern Kingdom into idolatry by instituting the golden calves as objects of worship for Israel. This act would repeat the sin of Israel in the wilderness and caused the fall of his kingdom. It would be quite illuminating to see how this sin came to the kingdom.

The making of these idols was a political ploy, preventing the people from going up to the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and to observe religious festivals. Should the people of the north go continuously, their hearts would then be turned to Rehoboam, king of Judah. To secure his kingdom, Jeroboam did not want his people to go to the temple and so he offered an alternative. When people use religion for political ends, syncretism can come in. The separation of church and state was introduced to stop this but also exclude the Kingdom of God from the political arena.

The way to appeal to the common people was through the benefit of convenience. Since there were much closer centers of worship, people would then forsake the one with greater distance and went for those with shorter distance. Looking for shortcuts and conveniences in the worship of God would bring in the danger of syncretism. When we set our own terms in worshiping God, we would deviate from the demands of God but cater to the demands of man.

The most dangerous sign of syncretism is to bring the world into the church. Jeroboam abandoned the use of Levites in holy services but to anoint common people for the ministry of God. The holy and the secular do not mix, it is either totally for God or totally against God. There is no middle ground, one cannot serve the world and serve God at the same time. Following the Lord half-heartedly is the same as not following.

Are you struggling with syncretism, thinking that the Lord is not enough and you have to bring in other things to make your life more livable? Renounce them now.

Ps 132:13-18 1 Kgs 12:20-13:34 Acts 9:26-43 Prov 17:6


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