I have a very literal brain, so when I think of “making idols” I picture a potter in a shop making things on the potting wheel.
Little cups and bowls, pitchers, vases. Some smooth and well-shaped. Others bumpy and misshapen. I picture the messy process of wearing the apron, hands covered in wet clay. The air smells earthy.
But when the Word of God talks about making idols, it is referring to the human heart.
Humans are very good at “making idols” on the regular. An idol is something you greatly admire and love and revere. Something you can’t stop thinking about. Something at the forefront of your mind. Think of how cartoon horses have been driven by a dangling carrot.
Our idols are like those carrots. Idols can be our motivation. It’s okay to have things that motivate us. People, goals… The problem lies in loving that person or thing or goal more than God. Because when that person, thing or goal becomes an idol, unbelief starts to take place.
So how do idols cause unbelief and how do we determine what’s an idol?
Idols cause unbelief in this way:
We start to put our hope in the idol. We start to attempt to glean our happiness and satisfaction from that idol. It becomes our catch-all. The thought we return to at the end of the day or first in the morning, or if we’re having a bad day. Idols actively fight to take the place of God.
When we’re living for an idol instead of for God, we are heading in the wrong direction. Our motives become catered towards our idol instead of God’s will. They become selfish and self-centered. Whatever it takes to uphold the idol.
When we’re living for God, everything else is secondary. Living for God means elevating Him to the highest position of authority. When we recognize His authority and have a reverence for Him, we bear obedience to Him, no matter what.
If we’re looking through a tainted lens, we might call an act of idolatry “obedience”.
So what determines an idol? I think the most simple way to understand an idol is this: anything that you think about more than God.
If you’re somebody who doesn’t believe in God, you might be thinking: well gee, I guess every thought that crosses through my mind is an idol. Let me be more specific.
An idol is your love for any person, thing or goal that is greater than your love for God.
Believer or unbeliever, you may be thinking: what thoughts and actions determine loving something more than God? Or you might be thinking: that’s ridiculous, I could never love something more than God.
My responses to those two hypothetical responses:
- When your motives for doing something is out of concern for this idol and not for the glory of God, you are practicing idolatry. For example, I am a salsa dancer. Let’s say that there is an event coming up that I really want to go to, but the Holy Spirit is giving me a nudge that I should not go. However, I am convinced that I NEED to go to this event. I am idolizing salsa over listening to God.
- If you think you could never love something more than God, think of the last time you committed a premeditated sin. That in itself shows a lack of belief and love for God. (Hey, we all sinners hahah I’m not the judge, there is only one judge!).
The takeaways are this: idolatry is sin. God hates sin. We make idols. We mustn’t bow down. Every part of our lives should be continually offered up to God. People, things, goals. God wants to be in all of them. He wants to reign over them. He wants us to trust Him with them.
I dunno about you, but I do NOT want to be a part of ANYTHING that contradicts God’s will for my life. The way idolatry leads to apostasy is scary. And incredibly easy.
Will you join me in bringing every aspect of life before God and offering it up to Him? He is our sovereign Lord who will ALWAYS lead us in the way we should go 🙂