Identifying Idols

Isaiah 42:17 But those who trust in idols, who say to images, 'You are our gods,' will be turned back in utter shame.

I can remember when I was at college, walking down the street with a few of my friends. We had just taken an exam and we were all carrying on. I guess we were relieved to have finished the test and just wanted to enjoy ourselves.

As we were laughing and cajoling, I stepped off the sidewalk to cross the street, and all of a sudden I heard a terrifying screech of brakes. A car stopped inches away from me and a rather irate, red-faced driver began to curse me out. My friends looked totally shocked, and we all quickly realized how close we came to causing an accident. We apologized to the driver, hurriedly crossed the street, and quietly walked to a local bookstore.

Because we had been so full of ourselves, we were distracted from what was going on around us. Because we had centered on our own amusement, we were blind to the busy traffic. We had idolized our group at that moment, and cared little for anyone else.

Idols are the things that distract us from God and the reality of His presence with us. In the psalmist’s time, idols were easy to spot – they were normally made out of wood or stone – and people placed them in their homes, on their rooftops, or at the center of their villages. Idols are not so easy to identify these days – they may be our televisions, computers, x-boxes, or blackberries – they may be fishing rods, guitars, golf clubs, or tennis rackets – they may be our homes, our possessions, or even our cars – the list is endless. An idol is whatever we can’t possibly do without or can’t possibly miss, and which, in the process, has become more important to us than focusing, worshipping, and serving God.

Prayer: Lord God, sometimes we shamefully obsess and focus on things that cause us to cast You aside and forget about Your continual presence. Sometimes we allow ourselves to satisfy our desires and fill our greed without being aware that we have idolized our possessions and property, our pursuits and passions. Free us, Lord, from the chains of idolatry that bind our souls and separate us from You. Help us to seek service in Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart

Knoxville, Tennessee, USA

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