They call it Iglesia Maradoniana or Church of Maradona. Never heard of that one? The Church of Maradona in Rosario, Argentina is dedicated to the worship of retired Argentine football (soccer) star, Diego Maradona. It has a following of 200,000 ardent worshippers who date the world according Diego’s birthday, October 30, 1960.
This is no joke. Worshippers adhere to their own Ten Commandments (e.g. Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football, Defend the Argentina shirt, Spread the news of Diego’s miracles throughout the universe, Honor the temples where he played and his sacred shirts) and pray their own version of the Lord’s Prayer, but in Diego’s name.
It’s a shame none of the “ten commandments” address things like drug and alcohol abuse – problems which had plagued the broken hero throughout his life.
Why do so many people worship this man – with religious shrines around the world? He’s considered the greatest football player of all time – until someone better comes along, which is the inevitable outcome among all athletic achievements.
Why is humanity always making gods for itself? Does it need someone to adore and worship – regardless of any actual profession of faith or belief in a Creator? It seems so.
Missionaries to China have told me that pictures and shrines of the late dictator, Mao Zedong, can still be found in every home among the Chinese people – despite the fact that his Cultural Revolution and Giant Leap Forward resulted in the deaths of tens of millions. Is it irony or hypocrisy that a man who denied the existence of God should be worshipped as one?
The old Soviet Union had the same issue. It preached Atheism, yet worshipped Marx, Engels, and Lenin with 100-foot-high portraits in its many military review parades. And in North Korea – though you’re not likely to find any legitimate churches – you will find statues of that country’s late atheistic dictators Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il which both locals and visitors are required to pay homage to (i.e. worship).
Our Popular Culture has its own brand of worship – from the Church of the Risen Elvis through the adoration of its many cultural icons, to the fanaticism of college and professional sports, to the virtual worship of heroes in the scientific community. You see, regardless of how secularized our society becomes, regardless of how much we attempt to free ourselves from religion, the urge to worship remains in every one of us.
But none of the gods we make for ourselves has the power to redeem us, to heal our hearts and lives, or to give us hope for eternal life. None of these gods can transform our hearts and make us better human beings. None of these gods has overcome the devil, lived a sinless life, or conquered death. And none of these gods loves his or her followers unconditionally or has laid down their life on their behalf.
But Jesus Christ does love His followers – as well as all humanity – unconditionally.
He has laid down His life for the sins of the world, has borne God’s judgments and wrath, and has risen from the dead to save all who put their faith in Him.
Why, then, worship anyone else? Why spend your adoration on idols which can neither help you nor reciprocate your love?
Is it because we believe the gods we make place no demands on our lives – as Jesus does? Look at history. Humanity’s false gods have been the most ruthless, egotistical, and demanding tyrants. In contrast, Jesus’ appeal is this. “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Dear Lord Jesus, I renounce my worship of this world’s puny and powerless gods and cling only to You. You have the power to forgive my sins, cleanse and transform my heart, and save me eternally. Here and now I choose to love You and take Your easy yoke upon me. Amen.
If you are dealing with this issue, you do not need to face the challenge alone. Jesus has conquered every challenge so you can move from your present situation to a life of overcoming hope. Invite him to lead you in your journey. He will forgive, comfort, and heal you.
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