The Trap of Idolatry
Posted by: Josh Larrabee
Reposition: Slaying the Gods We’re at War With
Focus Verse: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and (God) will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33
Idols are usually perceived as statues depicting a spiritual god or being or an animal that represents something of significance. In our mind’s eye, they all kind of look like Buddah (at least for me they do). It’s safe for us in today’s culture to think that those are the only types of idols because you don’t typically see an elaborate statue with people bowing down to it on the street. In thinking that idols can only be statues that were built thousands of years ago, we trick ourselves into thinking they have no relevance for us today. The fact of the matter is, you are probably reading this on an idol right now. I’m writing this on something that can at times become an idol for me. Idols change throughout generations and cultures, but idolatry has been a problem since the Garden of Eden.
In his book Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller defines idolatry as: “anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” What is it in your life that has taken the place of God? It could be money or sex or relationships. It could be your family or your device. For me, it used to be alcohol. Whether you realize it or not, our lives are filled with idols, drawing our attention away from God. I don’t drink anymore, but there are other things competing for the place that God should occupy in my life. It takes awareness to recognize what is a God-replacement. Sometimes, it takes other people to tell us that something has become a God-replacement. It can be so easy to sit down for Chairtime with your bible and journal and then get distracted by the TV or your phone (I speak from experience). Before I know it, I’ve run out of time and my bible never got opened.
Advertising and marketing has exploded alongside social media. Advertisements are everywhere and whether they know it or not, companies are trying to sell you God-replacements. They make their product (or in the case of social media influencers, their image) seem like something that you cannot live without. They tell you that your life will be so much better or you’ll be so much more popular if you look a certain way or you’ll be so much happier with a new (insert product here). How are we to combat the constant barrage of manufactured perfection that infiltrates us? Jesus gave his followers some good advice and two thousand years later, it still holds true for you and me. While giving his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and (God) will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33). Notice Jesus doesn’t say we will get all that we want. When we seek God, we will get what we need. Most of us don’t know what we need, and rarely do our wants and needs align. When we focus on Jesus and his Kingdom, our hearts and minds are aligned with him and we are able to see clearly what has become an idol in our lives. Jesus doesn’t condemn us for our idolatry; he releases us from it and shows us a better way. What has become a God-replacement in your life and what do you need to do to get rid of it to return to Jesus?
Scripture Meditations for this week:
Tuesday: Colossians 3:1-4
Wednesday: Jonah 2:1-9
Thursday: Psalm 135:13-18
Friday: 1 Corinthians 10:12-14