I couldn’t possibly be an idolater like people in the Old Testament, could I? I don’t fashion carved images to bow down to or worship a pagan god. I am a Christian after all…
Well, consider the last command of the last apostle, which was written to Christian people.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21 ESV
That’s a command written to Christians, who had thought they had left their pagan practices behind them. St John needs to remind them about the danger of idolatry because in some respects idolatry is far more subtle when you consider yourself a person of Biblical faith.
It is likely that Western people aren’t building Golden Calves or Asherah poles to worship. But an idol can be anything that we set our desire upon more than the True Lord. Or anything that we find our ultimate significance and security from. Idolatry is an equal opportunity sin for all people – regardless of what they believe.
How can we spot the idols in our lives? Here’s a twenty question spiritual diagnostic from Tim Keller. It is helpful for both Christians and Non-Christians. Because all people need to find out how much they need Jesus.
“LIFE ONLY HAS MEANING/I ONLY HAVE WORTH IF…
- I have power and influence over others.” (Power Idolatry)
- I am loved and respected by _____.” (Approval Idolatry)
- I have this kind of pleasure experience, a particular quality of life.” (Comfort idolatry)
- I am able to get mastery over my life in the area of _____.” (Control idolatry)
- people are dependent on me and need me.” (Helping Idolatry)
- someone is there to protect me and keep me safe.” (Dependence idolatry)
- I am completely free from obligations or responsibilities to take care of someone.” (Independence idolatry)
- I am highly productive and getting a lot done.” (Work idolatry)
- I am being recognized for my accomplishments, and I am excelling in my work.” (Achievement idolatry)
- I have a certain level of wealth, financial freedom, and very nice possessions.” (Materialism idolatry)
- I am adhering to my religion’s moral codes and accomplished in its activities.” (Religion idolatry)
- This one person is in my life and happy to be there, and/or happy with me.” (Individual person idolatry)
- I feel I am totally independent of organized religion and am living by a self-made morality.” (Irreligion idolatry)
- My race and culture is ascendant and recognized as superior.” (Racial/cultural idolatry)
- A particular social grouping or professional grouping or other group lets me in.” (Inner ring idolatry)
- My children and/or my parents are happy and happy with me.” (Family idolatry)
- Mr. or Ms. “Right” is in love with me.” (Relationship Idolatry)
- I am hurting, in a problem; only then do I feel worthy of love or able to deal with guilt.” (Suffering idolatry)
- my political or social cause is making progress and ascending in influence or power.” (Ideology idolatry)
- I have a particular kind of look or body image.” (Image idolatry)
Ouch! Let that pierce your heart a bit.
via Vitamin Z