What would an idol look like today?
Published 3:42 am Friday, March 31, 2006
If you were to ask the average God-fearing Christian what idols they were struggling with, they would get a blank look on their face and say, “Idols! I do not have an issue with idols.”
Their response would be correct from an Old Testament biblical perspective. We do not see many gold, silver, or wooden images in our culture that are direct objects of worship. Other cultures that are considered pagan by Christian standards are consumed with holy sites and images of every sort.
The average Christian today might admit to issues about moral purity, wrong priorities, and certain aspects of worldliness, but idolatry would not get a second look.
Idolatry is such a big deal with God that He used two of the Ten Commandments to outline and condemn idolatry.
The first in Exodus, chapter 20, verse 3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The second in Exodus, chapter 20, verses 4-5, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image - any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.” The 10th commandment forbidding coveting could be linked to idolatry because, to covet, you focus completely.
God's chosen people of the Old Testament were the Israelites. He delivered their ancestors from idol worship and demanded that they worship Him, the true and living God. Whenever God's people drifted, the first thing that came up was idolatry.
God used Moses to deliver His people from Egypt. They witnessed many powerful miracles in a relatively short time.
When Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God, the people turned to Aaron and demanded a visible god.
Aaron collected some gold and fashioned a golden calf. The penalty for this was severe.
We know that God has not changed from Old Testament to New Testament, and people have not changed either, so idolatry is likely still a big issue.
Somebody said an idol is anything we love, fear, or serve. You could add, “… more than we love, serve, or fear God,” but that makes it subjective. We must be confronted with the hard questions, “What do we love, what do we fear, and what do we serve?”
The demands of God are rather simple: He wants to be God. He declares His power, His sovereignty, His care, His plans, His provision, through hundreds of promises and examples throughout the Bible.
We read, we study, we discuss, but we have a difficult time believing that He is who He says He is, and that He will do what He says He will do.
Idolatry is a big deal today. We love money, position, control, comfort, and leisure. We fear almost everything. Stress, which is a nicer word for worry, consumes this culture. We fear everything but God. We serve ourselves. God gets some leftovers. We call it everything but idolatry, but that is what it is.
There is a juggling act between human responsibility and God's control, but when we go beyond “seeking God with our whole heart” or “waiting on the Lord,” we make things happen. There needs to be a certain detachment from life's pressures for the Christian. Most of us are not sure what God can do because we preempt His work with our own.
We appoint worship services where we are supposed to focus on God. In the first century they met daily, then it went to two days a week, now it is once a week if it is convenient. Most worship services do not help us focus on God for who He is, but comfort us in all our diversions.
Worshipping God is a mindset. It is moment by moment. We are confronted with so many choices. Several hundred times a day we choose to bow to God or to some idol we have allowed to creep into our life.
Dealing with idols has always been radical. It needs to be. We need to reorient our thinking. We need to let God be God.
The Rev. Dan Puckett is a minister with Life Action Ministeries. He writes a weekly column for the Niles Daily Star.