Christians, or at least evangelical Christians, dislike idol worship. This stems from the clear biblical message of not worshiping any sort of idols. In fact, this was the first of the Ten Commandments inscribed on the tablets that God gave to Moses in antiquity on Mount Sinai. Most prophets, priests, and poets in the Old Testament denounced idols and appealed the people of God to come back to Him and worship Him alone. In articulating a persuasive theology of salvation via justification by faith, the Apostle Paul is at pains to stress that humanity has sinned against God by choosing to worship images and making idols of creatures and not worshiping the living God.
“16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1: 16-25 NIV).
However, in denouncing the sins of others and particularly their idol worship, we may often overreact and conveniently become blind to our own idols and images. Many find it difficult to accept the suggestion that they might be keeping an idol or two. What is an idol? An idol is a created thing by humans or something in the creation that we deify. An idol is also anything that we put before our worship of a living God. It could be anything that occupies more prominent place in our lives than worshiping and obeying God. It does not have to be made of material things. It does not always come in the form of a religious artifact. We don’t have to literally bow before an idol. We don’t even have to offer anything to it. And yet, people today have so many idols in their lives that they are not even aware of.
This Lenten season, let us look closely at our daily lives and activities. What could have gradually become an idol in your life? Is it a sport that you play or a sports team that you idolize? Is it your mansion, work, career, vacation, social group, or some other activity/event that has become a very intimate part of your life? Other than God, what is it that has become a priority and occupies a place of prominence in your daily life? With the help of the Holy Spirit, if you are able to identify something or someone as your idol, confess it before God. And ask Him to help you overcome your idol worship and to refocus your life on God. Let us make God and obedience to Him our first priority as followers of Christ.