Idolatry: “Extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone”
I know I know…I’ve already started talking about idolatry at the beginning of this post, but before you potentially check out, give this a chance. What do you typically have a conversation with someone about? Work? Sports? Maybe the weather? Could it be about children? What about the latest news?
It seems like it’s pretty difficult to have a conversation with many people without at least hitting one of these topics. I can’t help but think, conversation after conversation, why do we consider these things so important? Why are they such a big deal? I am including myself in these conversations as well, as I typically default to one of these subjects. So what is the deal?
I believe it has to do with where we find our identity. Everyone finds their identity in something: sports, celebrities, fashion, popularity, spirituality, religion, materialism, etc. It seems like we try to do many things to secure for ourselves the meaning of life, where we can find our joy, and how we can finally find happiness.
Please hear me (if you are reading out loud to yourself) when I say that these things aren’t necessarily bad in and of themselves. I love watching sports, especially in the playoffs. I love technology and gadgets that go with it. I love watching the latest TV show that my wife and I are in to. I love our children like crazy! But all of these can become a problem if we find our identity in them.
As Christians, our identity is to be found in Christ and Christ alone. If you were to take an inventory of the amount of time you spend reading the Bible, praying, talking with others about Jesus VS the amount of time you spend on all of these other things, what would it look like? It’s safe to say that whatever we spend most of our time on, becomes our priorities, and in fact turns into what we worship.
If I make a claim to say we worship our TV because of our priorities, most people would disagree because they aren’t bowing down on their knees in front of their TV each day, but think about it with me a different way. If who you are and your demeanor changes based on what you are watching on TV, that idol might have more control over you than you think. If your mood changes based on how your favorite sports team is doing during the season, that team has great power over you. If you must have the latest technology regardless of the cost whether that be because of appearance or because you “just have to have it,” you will never find satisfaction.
Whether we are followers of Christ or not, we are all guilty of this because we are all sinners and our hearts are “idol making factories and we depend on something or someone less than Jesus in order to make our lives worth living” – Tullian Tchividjian
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world— the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17
As Christians, we are called not to love the world or things in the world. That doesn’t mean to not love others, but it’s a call to deny the desires of the flesh, eyes, and pride in possessions. The world will pass away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. Your TV show will eventually get cancelled and there will just be another one. The sports team you love will lose and let you down…even if they win, they will soon be forgotten. Technology will change tomorrow, always leaving you behind. All these things will pass away.
“Sin isn’t only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God.” – Timothy Keller
Our ultimate satisfaction and joy comes through our relationship with Jesus Christ because of what He did for us on the Cross. How He paid the penalty for our sins, died, and rose again conquering death! As believers, let us be encouraged to not get so caught up with the things of this world that are pointless and will pass away, but to focus on eternal things, our treasures and rewards in heaven, and invest our lives into the will of God.
Let’s invest our lives into spreading the Gospel, loving God first, and loving others. For non-believers, your search will continue to come up empty with every new thing you try to live for, but Jesus will never fail or leave you. You will never come up empty with Him. The Bible says that if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).
You will ultimately never really live your life or find true satisfaction or joy apart from a relationship with Jesus. My prayer and hope is that you would start that relationship today.
Question: What are you living for? Please share by commenting below.
Here are other Frequently Asked Questions and how the Bible answers them.