"It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses"
The word "idol" is a somewhat archaic term. We think about it in primitive cultures who bowed down to statues or who, in ignorance, worshiped a force of nature. We use the term differently today as we think about music stars, TV personalities, and athletes as Idols. Those few people who are so admired, that throngs of people desire to be like them. The show American Idol is all about the opportunity for fame and to be put in a position where others can admire you.
In Biblical language, Idols are those things that receive our loyalty over and against God. Idols in that context, are neutral in themselves, but evil in our relationship with them. Jesus tells us a story about a rich young man who asks him how to receive eternal life (Mark 10:17-31). Jesus responded that the one thing needed was to do away with his many possessions so that he would be in a position to follow him. This was not a command for all people, but for this young man, it was essential to rid himself of all the things that take prority in his relationship with Jesus. For this man, his possessions were his idols. They framed his identity and he served them, as opposed to the possessions serving him.
Brilliant Christian Theologian C.S. Lewis defined idols as those things and people who you seek to gain your identity and affirmation from, other than God. The easiest way to identify your idols is to think about whom or what you turn towards to be told you are OK.
Sometimes Idols are rooted in our physical appearance, where it is of utmost importance for us to be affirmed as attractive. Sometimes, it is our workplace, where our identities are primarily formed as result of position and competence. I experienced that as a Physician quite a bit. Sometimes, our identities are rooted in a relationship, where the significant other's understanding of you drives and draws your self-identity.
There is nothing wrong with being affirmed by others, or by our careers, or even our actions, but there is something terribly wrong when we are defined by them. This is why God continually comes out against Idolatry: it deforms and conforms us into something we are not.
We were created to reflect the image of God. Yet, it is our desire to be our own gods and goddesses that continually keeps us seeking a self-identity outside of God's identity for us. In the story of Adam and Eve, they desire to be "like God" despite the fact that no other humans, other than Jesus, were as close to being like God as they were. They exchanged their God-given identity for one of their choosing. We replicate this process over and over again when we choose to serve the newer idols, gods, and goddesses in our life.
Think about what helps you understand who you are? What are its primary drivers? Is it based upon a relationship with God or in people, power, positions, or possessions? Take time today to reflect upon this and ask God to point out your idols.
May God bless you
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.(I John 5:21)
Pastor M Traylor