I don’t pay daily homage to terra cotta statues. There are no annual pilgrimages to sites of worship scheduled in my planner or built into my budget. I don’t perform sacrificial rituals in hopes of pleasing a man-made god. But I have been an idol worshiper. I am guilty of giving service to other gods instead of the one true God.
In today’s technology driven, scientific world, we scoff at the ancients. We are so much wiser than they were then. How could they be so stupid as to worship an idol that they themselves crafted or paid to have fashioned? Why would anyone think that an inanimate item such as wood, metal, clay could be living and breathing on the inside? A lifeless, insentient object cannot produce rain, children, health, healing, or anything else. It just isn’t scientific! It isn’t feasible!
Yet, it is exactly how an ancient idol worshiper (and sadly, some in cultures still today) believed. Yet, I ask you as an American, are you really that different? Sure, you don’t have a statue of a cow sitting on the mantle where you daily go to pray, but do you have a television prominently enthroned where you spend countless hours paying homage to the stars of the silver screen? Sure, you don’t perform pagan sexual rituals in temple buildings as the people of ancient Corinth did but do you rent adult entertainment and form unhealthy fantasies? Sure, you don’t go on spiritual pilgrimages to find the exact location where the angel confronted Joseph Smith, but do you dream about and run off to the mall every chance you get?
Let me say this very clearly. I am NOT anti-television, sex, or shopping. These can be gifts from God. They are amoral entities until we push them into idol status. What I want readers to see is how easy it is to turn things, people, practices into idolatry. I truly believe this is a message we need to hear.
In the Ten Commandments, God first instructs his people
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them:” (Exodus 20:3-5).
I contend that when we sin, we are serving something other than God.
When Jesus was asked the greatest commandment, He responded in Matthew 22:37 by saying,
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
Jesus’ teachings show that when we love God above all else, the other commandments fall into place. In other words breaking a single commandment comes back to breaking the first commandment. If you committed adultery, it is because you put sex, lust, and immediate personal fulfillment before God, thus making them idols. If you coveted your neighbor’s car, you idolized the item and your own desire to own it before God.
Anything or anyone can become an idol when we give it reign of our heart. Read the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs 4:23 when he said,
“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”
Basically, he tells us to guard our heart more than anything else because everything that we do, all of our motives for our actions, stem from it. My encouragement for you, brothers and sisters, is that you realize as I did that you have served idols. Once you admit you are an idol worshiper, then dethrone the idols from the temple of your heart and give God the preeminence He deserves!
What idols have you struggle with? What advice would you give on how to dethrone them from our lives?