Culture

5 Idols That Are Alive and Active Today

Often when I read the Old Testament and come across people worshiping idols I think, "I'm sure glad we don't struggle with that today." It's easy to read what people struggled with thousands of years ago and think we've gotten smarter. But have we? Or have we just packaged our idols differently?

Often when I read the Old Testament and come across people worshiping idols I think, “I’m sure glad we don’t struggle with that today.” It’s easy to read what people struggled with thousands of years ago and think we’ve gotten smarter. But have we? Or have we just packaged our idols differently?

I believe idolatry is still alive and well today. Ultimately any time we violate God’s law, in other words sin, we commit idolatry. We are putting something else before God. Scripturally idols serve as anything that is anti-Christian. In that regard things that are good can become idols when we make them ultimate, or ruling, objects in our lives. By that definition idolatry is still alive and active today.

Here’s 5 idols that we have today.

Our Image 

Too many have their identity wound up in how their social media presence looks. We spend more time striving to get more “likes” on the perfect selfie than we do on trying to live out the Gospel message. In our near narcissistic society it’s all about us. When it’s all about us where can God fit in? The answer is in the left over section or not at all. Anything we put before God is an idol.

The main problem with this is the Bible actually tells us a different story. The Bible tells us we are weak, hopeless, and lost. Yet despite that we are loved. Why don’t we see those kind of posts on our Facebook feed?

When we care more about what people think about us, whether in person or online, that becomes an idol in our lives.

Money/Consumerism 

Just google “money” and you will find article after article on how to make more money. Now money itself isn’t bad. But in our culture money has quickly taken the place of God. Many Americans trust their money more than they trust God.

I’ve wrote on my struggle with this idol before: Money and God (An Honest Look at the Struggle) 

Money certainly isn’t a bad thing, nor is it a good thing. Money is simply a tool and is good/bad depending on how we view it and use it. But in our society money is often God. We trust it to care for us. We put our hopes and dreams in it. And when we don’t have it we do anything to get it.

Money has become an ultimate thing in our lives. We make many life decisions based around finances and not God. That’s an idol.

Entertainment

This might seem a little strange, but bare with me. In our culture there is a growing trend that says experience > things. In other words, spend your time and money experiencing life (i.e. vacations, trips, night outs, concerts, etc). While those things aren’t bad, I would argue they are mostly good; they have become the focal point of many lives. Our lives have become the search of entertainment and chase of the best experiences life has to offer.

If we are pursuing the experiences in this life above God then it has become an idol. How can we tell? What’s on your mind most of the day? What’s the first thing you think about in the morning and the last when you fall asleep? Entertainment is good and often a gift from God, but let’s worship the giver not the gift.

Sex

Sex is everywhere in our culture. It’s used to sell just about everything. It’s on TV, billboards, the internet, and conversations at work. We are obsessed. According to the Bible, sex is a good thing. But it’s not an ultimate thing.

We have taken a gift from God and made it god in our lives. We have taken a good thing and made it an ultimate thing. We are worshiping the gift and not the giver of the gift. That’s idolatry.

Comfort

There is an endless list of products promising to simplify and add comfort to your life. We have made our lives much easier and much more comfortable than any other time in history. Tasks that used to take all day can be done in minutes. Many menial tasks are now automated. While that’s a good thing, our pursuit in life should not be comfort alone.

Jesus tells a very different narrative for his followers. He seems to say that his followers will face trials, persecution, and difficulty. While comfort isn’t bad, but if that’s our main pursuit in life then we will struggle when God calls us to something difficult.

The bottom line of this article to say don’t worship the gifts. Don’t let the good things in your life set the course and direction for your life. Thank God for the good things you have, use them, enjoy them, but don’t put them before God. If you sense that something in your life has taken the place of God take it down, put it aside for a time. Put God back where he belongs.

We still have idols today. They don’t look like they did years ago, but they are still around. They are harder to spot and socially acceptable. But they are just as dangerous. If we aren’t careful they can destroy our relationship with God.

3 comments on “5 Idols That Are Alive and Active Today

  1. Good points. I would say, that excluding sex, the other 4 could be said of the church today.

    Image casting and image management seem to be the norm for larger churches. How the externals look seems to be more important that what unrepentant hearts look like (ours) and fighting to save the lost.

    The church is driven by consumerism, giving ourselves the latest technology, latest Christian fad, latest famous speaker, so we will show up. A lot of this has to do with hoping these folks will give so we can keep up our image management of “bigger and better.”

    Entertainment: need I explain this one? This totally goes with the first 2. We want the “world” to know we are up with the times having the latest and best show in town. We also want this for ourselves, to keep us interested in worship and the “gospel” and the Word of God. So the church provides what we want, not what we need.

    Comfort: Who wouldn’t go to a church that has the best heating and air conditioning, softest pews, color coordinated paints/fabrics/furniture/accessories. And then certainly when we are there, we don’t want to be accosted with our deliberate sin (an oxymoron, all sin is deliberate), learning that we are wretches before God and desperately need His forgiveness through repentance. We want sermonettes for Christianettes. We don’t want to squirm in the pew, but made to feel inclusive in the Family of God.

    But somehow all this isn’t working. Just as it is with individuals, so it is with the church. Our souls are dry, we are dissatisfied with how our lives are working out, we yearn for something else, and yet week after week, we still go where we feel “welcomed, pampered and caressed”, with this gnawing feeling there is something missing. What’s missing today is repentance and sacrifice in the church, which would take care of all 5 of these idols of the individual heart and the future of the church.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Anonymous

    I think it’s possible that comfort could be an idol for some, but whether or not it is an idol (and anything can become an idol) depends on your attitude/heart. Comfort for its own sake is an idol. But God doesn’t want us to be miserable, exactly as you said. This took millennia to figure out. Asceticism sucks (making yourself suffer to “deny the flesh,” as Martin Luther’s monastery used to do, even sleeping in winter without blankets!) and gets no one closer to God. “Don’t try, trust!” as the great Chinazo of Los Angeles says.
    It is the same with sex. It’s an idol if it’s done simply for its own sake. But if comfort makes you more productive, for example, that’s good. If sex deepens your love, that’s good. That’s what we’re here for.
    Now, that leads to the #6 greatest idol today: marriage. For most people marriage really is the biggest idol in their lives, isn’t it? People look to their partner, not to God. Hooking into someone else rather than rooting yourself and your own purpose firmly into God! Unless it leads to and comes out of LOVE it will dead-end and DISAPPOINT, exactly as scripture says.
    This is so important.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anything COULD become an idol. Anything you put before God, by definition is an idol.

      You’re right! I think marriage AND kids are certainly an idol in our culture. However I think that will dissipate over the next few years. I think marriage outside religion will take a large decline. With the growing number of people claiming no religion I think marriage will not be valued or practiced as much. Thus becoming less of an idol. Although maybe more of an idol for Christians that still practice marriage. I guess we will have to wait and see!

      Like

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