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Idols Defined

So, what exactly is an idol anyways? Is it so obvious as a golden calf? Or is it something more sinister? Read more for our take on what idols truly are.

The word idol conjures up images of golden calves, Buddha bellies, and voodoo dolls. Doesn’t it?

We’ve used this term an awful lot throughout this issue of Shattered, and it’s likely to continue throughout every issue. And for good reason, it’s something we often struggle with. No, I don’t have images of you dancing around your house, bowing down to golden images – well, okay, maybe that image just crossed my mind.

Here at Shattered, we view idols, according to the biblical definitions, as anything that you place your hope, trust, identity, purpose, or investments in above Jesus. Yes, the Bible refers to statues of gold and wooden images; various cultures throughout the history of time have worshipped nature, but what were the people really doing when they were bowing down to these idols? They were searching for something to put their hope in – hope for healing, rain, survival, purpose, identity, etc…

In his book “Removing Idols of the Heart,” Dr. Timothy Keller calls idols our “motivations for action and basis for identity other than Christ.” People who lived during Biblical times and throughout history looked for their identity and purpose outside of Christ just as we continue to do today. We all look for ways to heal our wounds, occupy our minds, calm our fears, fulfill our desires, and satisfy our hearts. Often times, we look outside of Christ to find that.

Idols can be obvious void fillers in your life like eating, shopping, drugs, alcohol, pills, music, TV, money, etc… Those are the things that I personally grew up being cautioned against. Some items on this list are obviously bad for you. We all know that abusing drugs is not good for your health of body, mind, or soul. Some of this list is more on the amoral side. The occasional glass of alcohol, the Kid Rock concert you went to, and the brownie that you ate at lunch will not constitute idols in your life until they become your source of comfort, courage, strength, or identity. It’s not that eating, shopping, music, and money are necessarily bad, in and of themselves. However, it’s when they take the place of what God should be doing in our hearts to fulfill our desires and meet our needs where we find ourselves in danger.

In a less obvious manner, idols can also be the extremely good things in your life. Friends, family, children, spouses, creation, pastors, good works, etc… The good things that God blesses us with can also be the things that we end up putting our hope in – and our hope, when not placed in God, will be crushed in the end.

Our continuous hope is to daily evaluate our hearts, examine where our hope lies, and then allow God to be first in our lives.

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“Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen” (Romans 1:25).

“You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).

“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose’” (Isaiah 46:9-10).

“Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands” (Psalms 115:4)

 

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