All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have turned into idols of clay. - Styx
The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee.
- William Cowper
When I was growing up, I heard stories about how the Israelites were always bowing down to these idols. I guess for the most part, I figured these idols were some big carvings or statues made of stone and metal and stuff. I also heard about how God said we're not supposed to worship them.
I thought the Israelites were pretty dumb for doing these things and, since I was a kid and didn't really have a whole bunch of scrap metal lying around and didn't have money to go buy a ready-made idol, I figured was pretty safe from the whole idolatry thing. That's one commandment I might as well forget.
But we all bow down to idols.
I knew a lot of people growing up who idolized their children. Their life was consumed with their kids, trying to never let them experience pain or feel sad or want for anything. Later on, when these kids were blindsided by reality and started doing all kinds of distasteful things, the parents completely crumbled.
I am close to some people that idolize financial security. Their anxiety level directly corresponds to the health of their stock portfolio. The end goal of their life’s work isn’t Christ’s Kingdom, but building their own little kingdom that is safe, dry and comfortable.
Other people idolize their health.
Or how about their country? People sing worship songs to the U.S. all the time.
The scary thing about it is that most idols are good things, like relationships, marriages, food, sex…whatever. They don’t look scary or ugly or fallible or ominous. Even things like morality and good appearances begin with good intentions. But what happens is that we present ourselves wholly and unreservedly to these things, these flaming receptacles for our trust and assurance, and consequently take a detour away from God's altar.
And idols keep us from a relationship with God. They keep us either in our past or our future, writhing in guilt over times our idols failed us, or sweating in anticipation of the next time we’re going to be let down.
If I am actually worshiping the one true and living God instead of substitutes, I don't need to feel shame and anxiety. Jesus' love covers my past and gives me assurance for the future.
Worship means presenting yourself wholeheartedly. Make sure it’s to the one true, living God. Tear the others from his throne in your life.