When we mention Idols in the Christian context, we many times think about some far off land where someone is burning a candle to a statue carved out of wood. We think of something that seems so foreign to us, that we might even be glad in our own hearts that we know better than that sort of thing. But do we? Are we really clear of idols in our own lives, in our own context and time?
This past week I led the group of young couples I meet with weekly to consider idols in our lives. We determined that from a Christian perspective, an idol is ANYTHING that is more important to our hearts and lives than God. ANYTHING. We came to the realization that sometimes, we put the good above the great. Meaning-we sometimes put good things in our lives above the great thing in our lives. When we do that-it becomes an idol.
The question we have to ask ourselves, and one that we are beginning to ask, is, "Think of the one thing that if it disappeared from your life, your life would not be worth living anymore." The follow up to that is, What that thing is, if it is not God, is your idol.
Many of us do not worship a carved wooden creature. But many of put our jobs above God. Many of us put the almighty dollar above God. Many of us choose to live where we live not based on what God wants, but on what our perceived comfort is. On a road trip recently, I was listening to a sermon by Matt Chandler, pastor of the Village Church in Texas. Chandler described how he likes sports, and that is exactly why he can't follow it much. He said this because if he followed it-he would actually care about it. He knows his personality, and he would care about it way too much. It would consume him. We are not be consumed by that-but by one thing-our Savior Jesus Christ. I admire his ambition, and can relate to it. I love St. Louis Cardinals Baseball. If I wanted to-I could be a serious Cardinals junky (and there have been times in my life where I really have been). But if those things consume me, something else doesn't. Does this mean I must never watch a Cardinals game again? Of course not. Come on, folks. But if my life gets disjointed because I can't watch a baseball game, then we might be on to something that needs to be fixed.
Many of us (and hear me-this is when it gets personal) put our families above God. We trick ourselves into thinking that our spouses are more important than God. We think, "Well surely God wants me to love my wife". This is certainly the case. Men-God wants you to love your wife as Christ loves the church (good luck with that...whew!). Women-God wants you to honor your husband, love him, and trust his leadership. However, the only way I can be the best husband I can be, is to be the best follower of my Savior, Jesus, as I can be. As a man, I must pursue Jesus with all of my being. This will in turn make my marriage healthy, successful, and grow. The same goes for Leslie. She must seek first Jesus, and our marriage will be healthy, successful and grow. If I elevate Leslie above Christ in my life, there is a serious displacement. And it will ultimately change the health of my marriage and walk with Christ.
We must begin to think-what things have their grasp around our lives. If it is not our Lord Jesus Christ-it is an idol. We must flee into the arms of Jesus, repent, and continue the lifelong process of trusting Him as our ultimate.
John Calvin described man as a "perpetual factory of idols". I suppose this is what it means to be and live on this side of the story. I long for the day that I don't continually build man made idols in the place of the beauty of our creator.
Until then, I press on, I trust Jesus, and I repent when I recognize things in my life that are good that I am elevating to great.
There is only one GREAT, and that is Jesus. He purchased my life with this blood he shed, and I can do nothing less than give all my life to Him in joyful pleasure for his sacrifice.
For the Glory of God.
Matthew is 34 years old and currently lives in St Louis, Missouri with his wife Leslie. He serves as the Associate Pastor at The Groves Church, in Webster Groves, Missouri.