An idol is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
The definition sounds more harmless than it really is. Especially in light of one statement by Jürgen Moltmann, the German theologian. In his book The Crucified God, he states the following about idols:
There is no threat to man which arouses more hostility than to threaten his idols or those of his group.
Let that sink in for a moment. It’s a powerful statement of truth.
Want to see how this plays out in the world. Just take a look at wars and violence – where those things are occurring, there’s a good chance that there has been a threat to another person’s or group’s idol.
The danger with idols isn’t that they separate us from the true God of the universe. It’s the byproduct of putting our faith in these idols. When the idols are what we put our salvation in, then they are bound to fail us. And we have to commit ourselves even more to them. It’s like a black hole – sucks everything within its gravitational pull and ends up destroying it and everything around it.