Bagdad—Idol worship isn’t just a problem for ancient civilizations, Tom Richter, pastor of First Baptist Church of Cullman, Ala., told college students Saturday night, Sept. 23, at the Converge conference.
Hundreds of college students from across the state met Sept. 22-24 at Crossings Ministries Cedarmore campus for Converge, “an exciting, fun-filled weekend” to help students “make life-long memories, meet new friends, and discover God’s purpose for your life and your campus.”
The weekend, sponsored by the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Collegiate Ministry, was filled with fellowship, worship, small group time, sessions and activities. Students utilized Crossings Cedarmore’s campus and participated in archery tag, climbing and other adventures.
During the main sessions, video testimonies of how the gospel transformed the lives of college students in the crowd were presented, and Better Life Church Band from Morehead led worship.
After reading from Daniel 3 the account of Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, Richter, a former church planter in New York and a graduate of Murray State University, said, tongue in cheek, “I am so glad, personally, that we live in 2017 where we don’t have idols. I’m glad we don’t live in a situation where we don’t have to choose to bow to an idol.”
The students responded with laughter throughout the auditorium.
Richter continued, “What I want to show you is what you’re facing, what you’re up against, it’s not new. It wasn’t new to me. It goes all the way back.”
He added, “I want to show you what happens in the life of these three college freshmen when God gets ahold of them and what it does to their culture.”
Emphasizing that a modern-day idol in American culture is not generally a physical idol, he defined an idol as “anything or anyone that you’re trusting to save you” apart from Christ.
He pointed out 10 idols that Christians of all ages are prone to struggle with: pride, self, control, significance, comfort, beauty, popularity, money, diversions, and he ended by repeating pride. “Repetition is a form of emphasis. I’m repeating it on purpose,” he said.
Richter recounted the story of the three Israelite boys and their defiance to King Nebuchadnezzar’s demands.
“Crazy Neb,” as Richter referred to him throughout the sermon, in anger replied, “Then what God will be able to rescue you from my hand?”
“That questions echoes today. If you do not lower your standards and date someone that’s not a Christian, how are you ever going to find love? If you will not lie and shade the truth, what will people think of you? If you will not sin, what God is going to save you? These are necessary sins. Come on. What God will save you if you reject this idol,” Richter pointed out.
“Still, it’s bow or die,” he said.
However, “Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego came out of the fire,” Richter proclaimed as the crowd of students erupted in screams. “When God saves, he saves to the uttermost!”
“A pagan king was brought to his knees and worshiped the true and living God because three Israelite young people wouldn’t bow,” he said.
“You want to change your nation or a change your college campus, or change culture? Don’t bow to the idols.” (WR)