My pre-teen daughter bought an iPod with money she saved from Christmas. She was SO excited – a device that could TEXT! And then she decided to take it into the bathroom. Down one iPod. Her dad showed grace and bought her a new one, this time with an Apple Care plan. And then she left the iPod at school. We found it, thankfully, but there was a lot of panic associated with its loss. This iPod is one of the first things that she has owned that she feels like she can’t live without.
There are plenty of things that we adults think we can’t live without, even though we’d never admit it. Ever try to take a break from social media? Some people still have chosen to stay off Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, but the vast majority of us are on one or more of them daily…or multiple times daily…or a shameful number of times daily. My current obsession is to repeatedly check the WordPress and Facebook statistics for this blog…It’s addicting to watch the numbers of people reading, the ‘likes”, the comments, and the subscriptions. There have been days when I had forced myself to stop looking.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites built themselves a golden calf to worship while they waited for Moses to come down from the mountain. Just like them, we are waiting – waiting for Jesus to come back. Meanwhile, we don’t even have to build our own idols – they’re built for us…And unlike the golden calf, our idols often fit into our pockets, or aren’t visible at all. Our idols have functions that are good AND bad, so they look very little like idols at all. Here are just a few of the areas of our lives that we can hold in higher esteem than God.
The idol of connectedness
Keeping in touch with those that we know and care about is a good thing, and it gives us ample opportunity to love and be loved. These are gifts! But when that gift overwhelms our lives, and becomes a minute-to-minute need, we risk putting God in second place. Facebook specifically reminds me of what God wants from us – He wants a constant feed of what we do and how we feel, so that He can give us what we need in return. He wants our fulfillment to come from Him, instead of from likes, shares, texts, and Retweets.
The idol of health and wellness
While we do need to be good stewards of the bodies God gave to each of us, if our time, money and conversation are disproportionally revolving around our bodies, we will revere our bodies more than we revere God. Gym memberships, hair appointments, running shoes, and organic veggies are good things unless they detract from serving and giving to God.
The idol of relaxation and entertainment
First-world culture is unique in that we have recreational time outside of work and home responsibilities, and we feel entitled to that time. We get grumpy when we don’t get “me time”, and our bad behavior can be explained away when we don’t get it.
The idol of knowledge
Knowledge is something that God wants us to strive for – He wants us to know His word, and to understand what He teaches us there. He wants us to know HIM! But the Bible is very clear about what happens when knowledge becomes our primary focus – we become prideful! If we study but don’t spend intentional time applying our knowledge, it becomes a source of our self-worship instead of our growth.
The idol of politics and social activism
Lots of us have a cause that touches us – mine is human trafficking, and yours might be the right-to-life movement, animal rescue, or the conservative party. Like almost all of our hidden idols, causes can be a good, good thing. But if we find ourselves trying to convert more people to our cause than to our Savior, the cause overshadows the One who should inspire our passions.
How can you know if these good things are idols? Honestly evaluate your time, your money, and your focus . If you spend excessive time on something and neglect God-given responsibilities, you have an idol. If something unnecessary keeps you from giving monetarily to God, you have an idol. If people know you more by your political leanings than by your faith, you have an idol. If sin is your reaction to not having or getting a particular thing, you’ve got an idol.
Exodus 34:14 tells us that our God is a jealous God, and He wants every little part of your heart – He wants to reign in you! He suffered so that we can be free from the bondage of sin! If you see idols in your life, don’t be discouraged! Turn from those idols and replace them with obedience to the God who is in pursuit of your heart. Like my daughter and her iPod, we all need to look at how much we love the gifts that we have received. Remember that our God deserves more attention and accolades than any of the great gifts that He gives!
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