When I think about how the people in the Old Testament looked to carved pieced of wood for deliverance, or hope, or whatever they thought they could get from their idol, it doesn’t make any sense to me. Clearly God didn’t get it either. There’s that whole bit in Isaiah where God talks about the man who uses half a tree for firewood and the other half to carve an idol that he bows down to and asks to “Save him”. (Isaiah 44:15-17) How ludicrous!?!
And yet… I am afraid we do the same thing – maybe not with actual objects but with other things we worship and think will “save us”. Clearly God doesn’t get this either. He wants no substitutes for real relationship with Him and Him alone.
Here’s a few modern day idols I came up with.
Supernatural Acts – Some people seem to think salvation will come through something spectacular. And while God may show Himself that way, having something amazing happen doesn’t really change eternity, it just changes our circumstances. God sometimes uses miracles to point the way to Him, but if we are looking to miracles to solve our problems we may miss the Master.
A Special Connection – It can be easy to get into an “If only…” mentality and think that our destiny is all caught up in who we know or can get connected with. We think, ‘If only I could get some directed personal brainstorming time with ____________ then my life would really go somewhere’ or ‘If only the someone would reach out and connect me with my future, then things would really happen’ or …. Our destiny is not connected with who we know but Who we know!
Order – The idol here is when we bow down to the concept that everything is supposed to be ‘right’. This becomes what we worship, love and long for. It can take the form of reminiscing about the good-old-days or living for some kind of imaginary future where everyone gets along and there is no disease. While these things can be good, when they take over as our go-to mindset, they rob us of relationship with God, and then worry or concern become the false gods we go to.
Funding – (sounds better than just flat out saying money right?) This one is the most obvious. Likely we have all been there at one time or another, where we mused that if we just had that little bit more (or a lot more) we could do amazing things. Our impact then becomes limited by our current resources and the focus of our hope is on more funds rather than trusting His will and working within the means of what we do have.
Influence – Okay, so this is where it starts to get really personal for me. One of the definitions I found for idol included the word – fetish. I may have a fetish (or strong desire) for impact. I believe there is some Godly hope in there, but it can be easy for me to long for the day when I will “really be making a difference” for the kingdom. How sad. What I really want is to be able to focus on the King and connect with Him. I want to spend my life as an offering, in a clear priority of connection with Him first, and then impact will come out of that.
Harmony – Oftentimes we idolize a world where there is world peace and we all get along with each other personally as well. While this is an ideal worthy of attention when it becomes our primary focus, God is jealous.
Security – This idol happens when being sure of what is next, where things are coming from or tradition takes precedence over trusting, listening for next steps or willingness to move on in the personal story God is writing with you. True safety comes from walking in the fear of God rather than fear of man, or circumstances.
God is jealous for our primary devotion and worthy of our attention. He wants us to love Him first because He knows all these other things will not satisfy the true cry of our hearts.