Here are two definitions of idol that I like:
- an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
- a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.
Those come from a quick Google search for “idol definition.”
Those are pretty good definitions – straight and too the point.
I wonder, what are the idols we have in our lives? What are the things that we have faith in? What is it that we worship?
The last two weeks, I think it would be safe to answer those questions saying that there are many people in the US who have made partisan politics and politicians into idols. We get plenty of language that refers to it that way. How many times did you hear people talking about a politician who was going to “save” the nation and referred to the other party as evil. These folks give messianic descriptions of their preferred candidates.
Some people make celebrities into idols. I’m not sure why exactly. They are just doing a job, which they happen to make a lot of money doing. It makes as much sense as making an idol out of a well paid garbage collector who is seen on TV a bunch.
Sports has turned into an idol for some. In fact, often it seems as though sports is it’s own religion in the US. You have professional teams that have die-hard fans who practically worship and hang on anything the team says or does and takes it as gospel. “I can’t go to church pastor, I have to [worship] at the stadium instead.”
This list can get long, so here are some other popular idols that people have – wealth, sex, food, the environment, drugs, entertainment, patriotism, the bible (yes, I said the bible – the bible is not God and not to be worshiped.), automobiles, technology, work, safety, etc.
You can come up with your own list. Here’s the deal, if we think about this a little bit, I’m willing to bet that we can all find and admit to the idols we have made in our lives. Everyone – you, men, even the pope.
Idols provide us the sense of safety and control. It’s right there when and where we need it. Idols listen to us and make us feel the way we want to feel. Idols give us words we want to hear. Idols help us dream of what could be. Idols help us to feel justified. Idols give us something to defend and help us create us and them sides. Idols do a lot for us – or rather, they give us the impression that they are a great benefit to us. Which is why we have them and create them.
Yet the problem with idols is just that – we create them. An idol doesn’t exist on it’s own. It exists because we give it meaning and significance. It comes from us and continues to exist because of us. Idols are all about us.
Yet, idols are ultimately empty and worthless. They are made up. They will end up failing us. They will never fill the hole within us completely or satisfactorily.
Only God can do that. Yet, that can be scary. It’s scary because it means we aren’t in control. We can’t control of God. We are the limited ones. Trusting in God is taking a leap of faith – not knowing what or where your next step will land and yet still taking that step. Idols will fail us – they won’t be there when we need them most. God never abandons us – especially in our time of need. It may not appear that way. We may not get the result we wanted. Yet we are never abandoned.