Yesterday we explored how idolatry can be very common in our world today. Social media, personal pride, or material possessions only scratch the surface of possible idols with which we may struggle. Anything other than Jesus Christ has the potential to become an idol for us. It doesn’t matter how “good” or “normal” something might be. The danger comes when we worship created things over our creator.
This is such a difficult thing for us to wrestle with because most of the idols I mentioned during my sermon are often normal, everyday things. It is perfectly fine to own a cell phone or have a Facebook page. It is perfectly fine to maintain a bank account and properly control your personal finances. It is perfectly fine to fly the American flag. Yet idolatry comes when we fixate on that particular object or idea, rather than worshipping God alone. If we trust in phones, Facebook, bank accounts, or flags more than we do in our relationship with Christ, we commit idolatry.
If you are worried about something becoming an idol in your life, there are usually warning signs. Here is what I have noticed about our human sinfulness as it relates to idolatry. I’ve seen this in my own life, as well as the testimony of other Christians, too. You might be struggling with an idol if…
- You spend a large amount of time obsessing over something. How much time and attention do you give this thing? If it is all-consuming, chances are that it is an idol! If it feels like it overwhelms us and demands our attention, then we often elevate that object and worship it instead of Jesus. Work, hobbies, and collectables often falls into this category. It is so important to remember to keep these things secondary and to keep Jesus #1.
- You have unquestioning devotion for something. Idols often demand our devotion above all else. If you frequently get defensive about a particular issue in your life, chances are, that issue may be an idol. If you also notice that other, more important areas of your life potentially suffer, then that might be a sign of idolatry. We usually get defensive about insignificant things, rather than the most significant thing: our relationship with Christ. We need to keep the order right and have a sense of humility!
- You’ve already noticed other idols in your life. Just like any other sin, if we have unrecognized idolatry in life, that often produces more idols. This cycle is clearly a problem with our obsession and worship of personal image in our world. If we devote our entire existence to maintaining a flawless facade of our personal life, then we will likely embrace other idols to support that addiction. For instance, if we want others to envy us, chances are we will use something like Facebook to promote our image and to pretend as if everything is perfect in life. Idols often lead to more troubles with other idols.
- You are willing to compromise your morals. If you are willing to lie, cheat, steal, or do some other sin to take part in something, then chances are it is an idol for you. If we become trapped in idolatry, chances are we will rush to defend those idols no matter if it means we throw our sense of morality out the window. This is particularly clear with idols like money–people often struggle with dishonesty if it means that there will be more material possessions for them. Idols usually lead to other kinds of sin.
As I’ve emphasized all along, anything other than God can have the potential to become an idol–even “good” things! The point of the second commandment is for us to become away of these idols and realize that the only true object of our worship must be God alone.