Updated: Jun 11, 2020
When I think of an idol, I think of the golden calf in the book of Exodus. I think of the image Nebuchadnezzar erected in the book of Daniel. When I contemplate objects of worship, I think about the gods revered by the Egyptians, the Ammorites, the Philistines and all the pagan nations we read about in the Old Testament. What I do not think about is social media, my career and my relationships with other people. When the term "worship" comes to mind, I think of hands raised during a Sunday morning service not about gratifying my own flesh with food, sex or sleep. Because I live in the 21st century in a westernized country, the thought of physically bowing down to an idol is foreign to me.
But truthfully idol worship is not foreign to anyone. Idolatry is deeply embedded within the chasm of our souls because we are fallen sinful human beings. We are imperfect, rebellious people bent on doing things our way. We are selfish if it benefits us, spiteful if it suits us and wicked if it pleases us. We complain if we don't get what we want as fast we want and then complain when our own bad choices end up hurting us. We are a messed up people! And from the outflow of our idolatrous and unruly hearts, we go and worship idols.
Idols are not always images of stone or gems but sometimes very good and healthy things that we have ourselves have chosen to bow our hearts to. We idolize the gifts we have mercifully been given instead of worshiping the Giver of those gifts and the only God deserving of praise.
Their idols are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear;
Noses they have, but they do not smell; They have hands, but they do not handle;
Feet they have, but they do not walk; Nor do they mutter through their throat.
Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them. Psalm 115:4-8
Like me, you may have asked yourself, "Why is my heart worshiping something other than God?" but a better question is to ask, "How can I lead my heart away from idols and onto the living God?"
If we focus only on the why, we can easily fall into depression and despair. The truth is, our hearts are drawn to idols because we are innately sinful creatures. We are all idol worshipers and every human being has the responsibility to redirect their own heart away from false gods. All throughout the Old Testament, God implores His people to turn away from the gods of the surrounding nations, to throw down the idols and to make no sacrifices to any god but Himself. Did God say this because He is an arrogant controlling tyrant? If you have that belief, adjust your lens and take another look at the cross. God gave these instructions to His people, not because He wanted to flex His muscles, but because worshiping anything apart from the only living God is meaningless and only leaves us unsatisfied. I may find temporary happiness in 100+ likes on Facebook but that cannot compare to the love that was spilled out at Calvary on my behalf. A relationship may numb my need for security but it can never give me the insurmountable comfort of being held firmly in the hand of God. The desire of God's heart is for His children to be whole and full of joy and idols will inevitably steal our joy and our peace, leaving us empty and lost. God's aim is for our ultimate and eternal good.
God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In order to lead our hearts away from idolatry, we have to believe that Christ is greater than all of our idols. Because He is! Mere people cannot redeem our souls from sin and entertainment and social media cannot eradicate our anxiety. Nothing on earth that our hearts bow to can quench our thirst, break our addictions, heal our traumas and give us a reason to sing. Only Christ is able, because He is greater. Friend, He is greater than all of our trivial and eternally insignificant pursuits. If you are searching for true joy and everlasting peace, throw down your idol and gaze at Christ and Him crucified.