We read about idols in the bible and we shake our heads and wonder how the people of Israel could serve false gods after they saw all that the True God did for them and how he worked in their lives and did miraculous deeds. We say, “If that had happened to US, we NEVER would have worshiped false gods.”
Is that true? Sadly, no. While not many Americans today bow down to wooden images, it doesn’t mean that we do not serve things other than God.
I’ve come to realize that I often idolize people. When I was eleven, we moved and left a place that had been really hard on all of us. I was incredibly lonely and even though I KNEW my family loved me, I didn’t really feel it. (Lucky you guys didn’t know me at that time. I was not the nicest person around.)
So when we moved and a family we met at church was so kind to all of us, I began to idolize them. (At first I didn’t trust them and thought that they’d leave after I didn’t talk to them. But they kept trying for MONTHS and that endeared them to me). They became my idols for like two or three years. At the end of that time, I realized, “Whoa, what happened to me?”
A few months later, I did the exact same thing with a couple other people and God had to get ahold of me again and show me where I was wrong.
It bothered me immensely that I kept making the same mistake in the same area over and over again. I still struggle with this, some, but not as much as in the past. I’m really thankful that God showed me I needed to change, even though it wasn’t fun at the time.
Idols come in many shapes and forms. The one that you serve the most likely came in the subtlest of ways. Idols can be money, fame, a desire to be loved, a desire for human approval, wanting to be the best at everything, escape mechanisms. Basically anything you can think of can become an idol. The scary thing is that it can be hard to recognize our sins until we reach such a deep point that we look back and wonder how in the world we got stuck here.
Breaking free from those idols, those gods that we are enslaved to, is really hard. We love those things and we can’t imagine living without them. (Yikes, I can think of a few things like that). Go through your day and think of the things that you love most. Then ask yourself if you love them more than God. Of course the easy answer is to say, “Nope, I go to church, I pray, I read my bible, I’m right with God.” But really think about it. Search your heart and ask God to convict you of any idols that you’ve set up in your life.
I’m not saying that it’s bad to enjoy things. Money is not evil. Hobbies and fun are not evil. God gave them to us to be enjoyed and to point us back to him. We sin when we put them above God and rely on them instead of on Him.
Worshiping God doesn’t necessarily mean sitting in a church and praying constantly. That is a form of worship, yes, but we should seek to live out that worship in our day-to-day life as well. Are we pleasing God through our actions beyond of the church doors? Would we be ashamed if someone recorded our daily life and then played it for everyone to see?
So we are different than the people of Israel? No, not really. The only difference is that we are blinded to the things that we worship above God. We rationalize our idols because everyone else is doing it or because we really need it.
Set your heart on God and your life and actions will follow.