Monday, February 14, 2011

What Are Our Idols?

In western culture very few people are literally bowing down to statues and worshiping them as gods. But we are all idolaters nonetheless. How can this be?

God's first two commandments to Israel deal with idolatry ('You shall have no other gods before me,' and 'You shall not make for yourself a carved image' Exodus 20:3-5), and are the key to the other 8 commandments. God demands first place, will not share his glory with idols (Isaiah 42:8), and is jealous for the glory of his name (Ezekiel 39:25b). This is good and right, because God alone is worthy of the glory, and he has created all things for that purpose.

Jesus agreed, teaching us that the first and greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" (Matthew 22:36-38). All of us are constantly worshiping something or someone, for this is why we were made. When God is not in our first place of love and delight, we are idolaters. This is serious!

So, what are our idols?

Tim Keller said that an idol is "anything that I look at and say, 'If I have that, my life has value.'" A new car? The latest software upgrade? A degree from a university? A reputation for being the best mom in the church? What do you need for your life to have value? That's your god.

Mark Driscoll says it a little differently: When we take a good thing and make it a God thing (or an ultimate thing), that's a bad thing. This means putting good things in the place God alone is worthy to have. Family, food, sex, even ministry. When we elevate these good things and make them ultimate, they become our gods, and we become idolaters.

Dr. Tedd Tripp brings it even closer to home when he says, ""..those things that are your passion, that you must have in order to be happy; those things that are the condition of your being OK, that are not God. They're idols..” What is the condition of your being 'ok?' That morning cup of coffee? A clean house? What must you have in order to be right with the world? Facebook? The internet in general? Movies, books, tv shows? Ice cream? A significant other? Whatever it is, that is your god.

The good news is that Jesus died for idolaters! At the cross he bore in his body our idolatry and lack of love for God and his glory. He was judged in our place and took our sins away, for all who believe! He rose from the grave with victory and power, that we may live a life of worship to God.

In light of the good news of the gospel, let us repent of our idolatry and smash our idols. Let us return to the Lord and give him the place he is worthy of having - the place he demands in righteous jealousy. He will not compete for glory with any of the rivals we bring into our lives. Let us love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind!

"Little children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21, ESV

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