Twenty-first century Christians are more than aware of certain sins that run rampant in modern society– from blasphemy to adultery all the way to simply lying, we see the places where even those of us who follow God fall short on a day-to-day basis. But one of the less often-discussed sins is idolatry.
I know what you’re thinking. Idolatry? In this day and age?
You don’t have an expensive, hand-carved statue made of marble in your kitchen, you don’t spend your money on totems that represent false gods, and you have never even considered following other deities. Idolatry certainly isn’t relevant to today’s Christian population, right? It’s an old concern. It’s Old Testament stuff.
Unfortunately, idolatry is all too common among Christians today, and it’s because it creeps up on us in places we don’t expect. Idolatry doesn’t have to come in the form of worshiping statues or the sun. Idolatry is not just about paganism. After all, a giant marble statue can’t cause you any harm– what is a big piece of rock going to do to hurt the Lord or damage your faith, after all? A statue does not an idol make. An object does not innately possess some quality that transforms it into a faith-draining idol, because the fault is not within the item. It is within you.
Idolatry is something that occurs inside of you. Idols are something that each of us create for ourselves, and we each can turn anything in our lives into an idol if we love it more than we love God.
“If anything in all the world is more fundamental than God to your happiness, to your meaning in life, then that thing has become an idol,” said Tim Keller, author of Counterfeit Gods, and he could not have been more right. Though we don’t commit the stereotypical, oft-cited forms of idolatry found in the Old Testament, many of us commit idolatry every day without even thinking about it. Why do we find ourselves so prone to worshiping idols?
Because the things that we turn into idols are usually not bad things. Instead of statues and false gods, we worship the things in our lives that we love. We worship our spouses and our children, we worship our careers and our money, we worship hobbies and friends and addictions.
Any time we worship or serve something that is not the Lord, we commit idolatry. Look around at your own life and take note of your priorities. As Christians, we are taught to love our families, and that definitely isn’t a bad thing. You can and should love and serve your family– but not more than you love God. You must hold your love for Him higher than all the wonderful things that you love in this world. Your love for your God must exceed your love for your family, your friends, yourself, money, power and ego.
So what can we do to rid ourselves of dangerous idols that threaten our relationship with God?
It’s important to realize that the solution in overcoming idolatry is not to cut the idol out of your life, but to disarm it. If you put God above all else, the things you love will no longer be idols. The antidote to idolatry lies in the truest, purest service to the Lord! Shift your focus to fostering intimacy with your Lord and Savior. Set aside some quiet time every day that you can spend praying, reading the Bible, and working on your own faith. Remind yourself that the things you love in this world are no substitute for His Love. Power, money, success, addiction, and even family can bring you pleasure in the short-term, but they will always leave you feeling empty in the end.
Only God is eternal and omnipresent. When you strip away all the chaos, all the noise of this life, God is all that remains. That is why it is vital to put Him before all else. Do not try to talk yourself into hating your idols. The solution to happiness and prosperity is not to hate your family or your success, but to put God before them. Do not love your family less. Love God more than you have ever imagined possible.
Remember that God is best, and you will desire and serve Him above all else. When you love and cherish the Lord more than yourself, you destroy your idols.
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