Applied Belief: Take down your statue

During the last month, there has been a national conversation taking place about statues and monuments. Much of the debate has revolved around Confederate statues and monuments. What is interesting is that I do not remember this being a major issue or point of contention over the last couple of years.

Yes, there was the whole movement to take down Confederate flags from state capitol buildings. Yet, we have not seen this much interest in statues as long as I can remember. Readers please forgive me since I am 35 years old. If this was an issue before, I would love to read further about it but have not found much on the topic.

Even Charles Barkley recently commented on the statue issue saying, “I’m 54 years old. I’ve never thought about those statues a day in my life. I think if you ask most black people, to be honest, they ain’t thought a day in their life about those stupid statues. What we as black people need to do: we need to worry about getting our education, we need to stop killing each other, we need to try to find a way to have more economic opportunity and things like that. I’m not wasting my time and energy screaming at a neo-Nazi or saying ‘Man, you’ve got to take this statue down.’”

I believe Charles Barkley is right on this. We will have to see how far people take this issue and how many statues remain standing, are taken down, and which ones are rebuilt. My main concern is not so much the statues to confederate soldiers and the like. I am concerned with the statues we have erected of and to ourselves. Let me explain.

While people are screaming, yelling, and protesting about physical statue, the reality is that the vast majority of people have a bigger problem and that is the remembrance and worship of the self. We live in a world where the self is exalted. While we might not have a physical statue of ourselves we act as though we are the center of the universe. This has always been a temptation for humanity. We want to be God.

In the garden, the serpent tempts Adam and Eve with this very notion of being like God. “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Thus Adam and Eve gave into temptation and the twisting of God’s own words and warning and in an instance Adam and Eve allowed sin to enter their lives, their hearts, and the world.

You would think that humanity would learn its lesson after God casts Adam and Eve out of the garden but not too long after this we see humans working together, which in most cases is a good thing, to again be like God. The people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

The temptation and the desire remained in the wicked heart of man to be a God unto himself. The “I” is what is worshiped rather than God.

God reminds us of this through Paul’s writing: “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” (Romans 1:21-25)

People chose to honor themselves as gods rather than worship the one true God. When the Apostle Paul visited Athens, he noticed how religious they were. They had made “objects of worship.” These were mostly statues. But one stood out. It was an altar “to the unknown god.” The Athenians wanted to make sure they had a statue or altar to every god they knew or could imagine. People are no different today. They not only worship the self, but they have altars to unknown gods, as long as that unknown god serves the main god, which is ourselves.

People can take down every statue and monument in America but the main statue that needs to come down is our own. We are not made in our own image, we are made in the image of God. There is only one God and it is not us. This one true God will judge the world one day and our claim to divinity will not stand. Our only hope in this world is to take down the statue of the self, to dethrone ourselves and instead make God through Jesus our only object of worship, our only Lord and King. For “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

** The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the ownership or management of Chadds Ford Live. We welcome opposing viewpoints. Readers may comment in the comments section or they may submit a Letter to the Editor to editor@chaddsfordlive.com

 

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About Rev. Marcos O. Almonte

Rev. Marcos O. Almonte is senior pastor at Brandywine Baptist Church, the oldest Baptist Church west of Philadelphia. Pastor Marcos is a graduate of Palmer Theological Seminary with more than 10 years working with families with an expertise in theology, trauma and addictions. Pastor Marcos and his wife Mary have three children, Carmen, Joseph, and Lincoln.

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