When you think of the term “idols,” what comes to mind? Do you think of singers who are either really good or are making fools of themselves? Do you think of the Bible? What do you think of?
I’m not going to talk about the TV show, but rather those things that are idols in our life. John Pavlovitz wrote an excellent piece on the Great False Idol of Modern Christianity just yesterday. Here’s the main point – John claims that fear is our great false idol – it’s what we put our trust in. Don’t believe him, just look around and see what everyone focuses on. I totally agree with him.
I think fear is a huge challenge for people. It’s amazing to see normally rational people succumb to the idol of fear. And it usually doesn’t take much. Pay attention to what happens in the US when the weather people tell us there is going to be a snowstorm – people flock to the grocery store to buy up all sorts of food as if they will be trapped in their homes for weeks. Seriously?
American politics has gotten really good at using fear to drive votes, raise money and keep people attached to one political party or the other. “They’re going to take your guns!” or “They’re going make grandma choose between buying medication and eating dog food” are actual phrases I have heard politicians and politicos use to put fear into people. Seriously?
Religion is good at using fear too. “You have to do (fill in the blank here with your favorite must do), or else you’ll go to hell!” Wow, that’s a loving message if ever there was one.
Yes, fear is a modern idol. Yet, it’s amazing that we could probably list many, many more idols too. Here’s just a few off the top of my head – anything dealing with a screen – TV, tablet, computer, internet, social media. There are physical things – exercise, sex, drugs. There’s identity things – work, religion (yes, religion can be an idol, it’s not God). The list goes on and on. We all have our favorite idols, only we typically call them habits in our modern context. It’s much more sanitary that way and we don’t feel as guilty.
Why do we have idols? I think part of the reason we do is because we fear the unknown. An idol is something that is tangible or has tangible elements to it. If it’s tangible than we can touch it, we can control it. If we can control something, then there is no unknown anymore, or very little.
But with God, there’s a whole lot of unknown. We are not in control and that scares the hell out of us. It scares us because it brings us front and center with the truth – we are not in control. We have never been in control. We will never be in control.
The only one in control is God. Does this mean that all of a sudden we’ll just put away all the idols in our life? I doubt it. We’re both sinners and saints. But it does mean that I can recognize the idols in my life for what they are – security blankets – things that give me a false sense of control over my life. I can continue to examine why I attach myself to these things. I can continue to pray and talk with God about these things and put them in God’s hands to deal with because Lord knows I don’t have the power to deal with them, to let go of them – they are too comforting many times.
Yes, my friends, the good news is that God’s got your back, your front and the rest of you. God’s looking at that idol that we all cling to and saying, “Really? That’s what you’re pinning your hopes on? How’s that working for ya? I’ve got something better. It’s so much better it’s not even a comparison. Oh and by the way, I already chose you, so you don’t even have to worry about deciding what to do here. I did this for you because I love you.”