Idols are things that we create to represent God. Sometimes we confuse these things with God. Idols are often things that we worship. They are things that we will protect from others – because we equate the idol with God.
Idols can be anything.
What are the things in your life that you aren’t willing to question? What are the things that you will defend from others touching – or possibly even talking about?
Often we have idols, but we don’t really want to even acknowledge that they are idols. We call them other things and give excuses for why they can’t be examined or exposes for what they are.
In politics, they are called “third rail of politics.” These are the subjects that you aren’t supposed to talk about or even offer proposals to improve or update. Some examples might be Social Security, abortion, guns, etc. They could be, but then again, they might not be for you.
In church, we call these things “But this is the way we’ve always done it.” There is a variety of things that could be considered an idol. And then again, it’s not universal – it depends on each person and how they view these things: As things or as something more.
We have these in our personal lives too – things, habits, stuff, you name it. The thing by itself is not the issue. Money is a good example – A common idol is money, but it doesn’t have to be. Money, on it’s own, is neither good nor bad. It just is. It is a tool to be used to assist society in exchanging things of value. It is when money becomes more than a tool to exchange value that we have a problem. When money is the thing that we based all our decisions on. When money is what we listen to determine the worth of people. When money is something that we hold onto and protect against everything else. When we do these things, we distort what its purpose is – to exchange value. Instead, it becomes the thing that we value at the expense of everything else.
Idols become idols when they become active participants in our life and no longer idle things that carry no life of their own.
Lent is a great time for self-examination – to take a look at the idols that we have created in our life. Sometimes that can be painful and unpleasant. But calling an idol out is healthy. It is the first step to letting go of it and returning it to it’s proper place – a created thing that can help or harm us – a tool.
It’s a time to turn our idols into idle things again.