I love Tim Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. In it, he dissects our common belief that idols are a thing of the past. Idols are little wooden or stone statues that people believe are gods and bow down to, worship and serve.
Surely we don’t do that today. Especially in America and Europe where we are so scientifically advanced.
Yet in many countries today this “ancient” form is still widely practiced. Talk a walk around in India or other hindu/buddhist nations and you will see this very thing. Household gods.
But what about us in America, does this talk of idols and idolatry in the bible have any significance to us. Tim Keller, presbyterian ministry at Redeemer Church in New York City, says yes and he defines an idol as:
“whatever you look at and say, in your heart f hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”
That is a devastating definition if you read it carefully. What are you living for? What do you strive for? What is driving your life? It could be sex, money, fame, prestige, success, being good person or parent. We must honestly assess ourselves and answer this question.
The Bible then says that if anything other than God is the center of our life, then we are in trouble. You see the problem is that God has created us for himself, and put “eternity in our hearts” so that only and infinite being can fulfill and eternal whole. The problem is Idols can’t deliver, the promise satisfaction, but they can’t deliver.
C.S. Lewis says it this way, “A car is made to run on gas, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food of our spirits were designed to feed on. ” (Mere Christianity p. 50)
Now the truth is Idols today have become much more subtle or have they? Idolatry is not merely a surface thing, it runs deep into the human heart and can manifest itself in material ways and often does. But the cruelest and the darkest idols are buried deep inside of us.
So although we may not bow down to the God of Mammon, do we worship money today? Though we don’t bow down to the Goddess of beauty, how much money is spent on trying to make ourselves look younger and more beautiful? Though we don’t bow down to the God of sex, are we consumed with finding our next mate? Or are we locked to computer screens worshiping the unlimited amount of images available to us? Though we don’t worship the God of Success, do we spend our whole lives trying to achieve something, neglected our families, friends and even our own health?
The truth is Idolatry is running rampant in America today. Just turn on the television to be bombarded with images of what we “ought” to be like. Idolatry. Go to any magazine rack and see all the promises portrayed on the cover, Be a better lover, Get the abs you’ve always wanted, How to make your business succeed. And here’s the real kicker, every week, every month its the same promises. But they never deliver.
Now let me say this before we close. The things that we idolize are not in themselves bad things. Sex is a good thing. Success is a good thing. Money is a good thing. These things become idols when they are elevated to supreme position in our lives, when they sit on the proverbial throne of our lives. A place that is meant for one being; God.