American Idols

When people look at the second commandment, which forbids us to have idols before God, we tend to think of developing world cultures and the little wooden statues of gods.  We think this commandment no longer applies to our “advanced” culture, where we “know” these little gods are meaningless.  But do we “developed” people have idols in our lives?  The biblical definition of an idol would be anything which takes the place of God in our lives.  That definition makes the question easier to answer, and more uncomfortable to face.  Its been said we could determine our idols by looking at our calendars and our checkbooks.  What gets our time and our money besides God?  Some people call their hobbies, habits or addictions their idols.  I think it goes much deeper than that.  I think as we look at the West, we will see several deeply entrenched idols.  Here are some I acknowledge.

“People pleasing” (which could also be called “political correctness”), means I make another person’s approval more important than God’s approval.  I will take the line of least resistance and refuse to speak truth, do the expedient rather than the right thing, or develop the habit of doing whatever I believe will please somebody else, instead of seeking God’s will and pleasure.

“Being somebody” means I want people to look up to me.  I may seek leadership in every situation, I may kill myself working harder than anyone else in order to get attention, I may seek celebrity status, try to achieve “success” (whatever that means), or try to climb the ladder of whatever tower its leaning on.  This keeps me from concentrating on what God desires for me.  This also keeps me from many opportunities to serve God and others, because far more opportunities to serve are quiet, unnoticed and unrewarded.

“Self-fulfillment” is another idol.  Seeking our personal happiness, well-being, fun and excitement, and meaningful relationships, becomes an end in itself, rather than the outcome of seeking God and His will for my life.  “I Did it My Way” is the statement of faith of too many of us idol (self) worshippers.

Materialism is the most all-encompassing idol of the Western World.  Not only do we spend an inordinate amount of time ammassing wealth, we chase our tails keeping up with the Joneses.  Another form of materialism is seeking our security in anything material or worldly such as financial plans, science and medicine, or the government instead of seeking it in God.

Ultimately, none of the things listed above satisfy us.  That is because we are looking for something else to fill our need for relationship with God.  The idols won’t fulfill us anymore than we can live solely on candy.  We just need to be aware that God and His desires for our lives have to come absolutely first.  If He is not first in our hearts, we will just eventually “run out of gas”.  Look at the celebrities we see all over the television and newsstands.  How happy are they, really?  How many messed up relationships, addictions and mental health issues do we see among the rich and famous?  If celebrity, money and success brought happiness, you’d think these folks would be happier than average people, and instead they seem to actually be less happy.  As an old saint once said “Only the love of God will satisfy the hungry heart of man”.  Anything short of the love of God, whether it be the love of people, the love of attention, the love of possessions, the love of material security, or the love of self, is as hopeless as having a little wooden statue for a god.


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