idolatry

What Is an Idol?

We all believe lies about God that have caused us to mistrust him and therefore to look elsewhere for life. This is what an idol is. It’s anything we try to use to fill what only God can fill.

God never intended anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ to meet our core need for unsurpassable worth and absolute security. So when we try to meet these most central needs with something-or-someone other than God, that something-or-someone becomes an idol.

Idols always fail. They leave us with profound experiences of disappointment, frustration, hopelessness, and a host of other painful emotions. We try a wide variety of tactics to numb these painful emotions (alcohol, drugs, pornography, food, etc), or we distract ourselves from them (work, television, movies, sports, politics, etc). But distractions are only momentary and the Novocain of the idols eventually wears off.

A common idol we face today is related to “the American Dream.” Many ‘get life’ from what they achieve, what they possess, or whom they impress, which leads them to work eighty hours per week, sacrificing family and friends in the process of climbing arbitrary ladders.

Others chase peak experiences, believing that the next risk-taking adventure, the next experience of falling in love, the next lurid sexual experience, or the next drug-induced high will make them feel fully alive.

Christians tend to have a distinct set of religious idols. By this I don’t mean golden calves, statues, or shrines. Instead, some religious people have tried to find their ultimate worth and security in special rituals. Others have adopted righteous behaviors as a way to try and feel loved by God. And still others make an idol out of their tribe, making it superior to others because of their distinctive beliefs.

These are all forms of idolatry. God has established our worth, has accepted us into his family, and has secured us in his great love. Yet many fail to dwell in that love, fail to experience that security, and struggle to believe the worth they genuinely have. So with great hustle, and futility, they try to establish all of these things on their own.

—Adapted from Benefit of the Doubt, pages 63-65

Category:
Tags: , ,

Related Reading

Get LIFE!

We must always be aware of the fact that there is a constant lure toward idolatry in our demonically-oppressed world. It is profoundly easy to be getting all one’s LIFE from Christ and to be completely free of idols one day, but begin to be gripped by idol cravings the next. It’s also profoundly easy…

When You Doubt the Bible

Kit via Compfight Many people enter into conversations with ReKnew and Greg’s writings because they have questions and doubts about the Bible which they do not feel they can ask within their current church tradition. When they arise, and they will, what do we do with them? How do we process them in a healthy…

Why Bart Ehrman Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Christmas (Or Your Faith) Part 1

This is the first of several videos Greg put together to refute Bart Ehrman’s claims published in the article What Do We Really Know About Jesus? Greg went to school with Bart and is very familiar with his line of thought. He’s also heard of many people who have lost their faith based on his writings.…

Lighten Up: America is NOT the Kingdom of God

For some thoughts from Greg on the 4th of July and the Kingdom of God, see The Birth of Two Kingdoms: A Fourth of July Reflection. And now for one of the most ridiculous examples of confusing the Kingdom of God with America.                       This would be…

Trusting God for the Wrong Things

Chloe was a smart, personable, and devoted Christian student from South America whom I had the pleasure of teaching in several theology classes. In one meeting, Chloe confessed that, despite the confident appearance that she projected, she actually lived with a sense of guilt and had never felt like a good Christian. In fact, Chloe…

Is There Room for Doubt in Faith?

Many Christians today assume that faith is the antithesis of doubt. In this view, a person’s faith is thought to be strong to the extent that they don’t question their beliefs or struggle with God in whom they believe. As widespread as this view is, I believe it is unbiblical and profoundly unhelpful. My experience…