American Idols

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I suspect that we’re all guilty of idolatry at some point. I wish I could remember the definition of idolatry I heard earlier today, but I didn’t take very good notes so I’ve forgotten most of it.

It had something to do with us valuing anything more than God, of seeking our identity and purpose in anything other than God.

In biblical times, idolatry often meant bowing down to little tin or bronze statues. But in our time, it is much more subtle. Sometimes it’s harder to detect because it looks like normal devotion.

I wonder how many parents idolize their children. Or how many children idolize their parents. Or maybe it’s men (and women, too, I suppose) who make idols out of their careers or their spouses.

I think anytime you say that your child is your world, you’ve created an idol out of him or her. The same goes for spouses or boyfriends or girlfriends.

You can even make religion into an idol if you get caught up in following rules and rituals for their own sake rather than because it pleases Jesus.

It can be wealth or the desire for wealth. It can be sex or the desire for sex. It can be a relationship or the overwhelming desire for one. Idols are tricky like that. It’s not about an object as much as the desire in your heart.

You can make idols out of genuinely good things, like your children, your marriage, your job, your bank account . . . just about anything and anyone can be an idol if you place it above God in your heart.

How do I know so much about idolatry? Because I’ve had more than my fair share of idols. I can always tell when a relationship has become idolatrous in my life because my peace of mind gets tied to my perception of how well that relationship is going.

It’s easy to point the finger at the Israelites in the Old Testament for their propensity for idolatry. Heck, they were barely out of Egypt before they were bowing down to golden calfs. But that tendency is just as much in me as it was in them. I suspect it’s in you, too.

I think we have idols because we haven’t fully grasped how good God is, how much He’s really for us, and how much He really does love us. Or maybe we’ve just forgotten like those old Israelites did back in the day.

The best way to combat idolatry is to remember. To go back and recall how it felt when you first grasped the love of God for you. Or as the Bible puts it, “to remember your first love.”

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