Mention the word idol and some people think of figures made out of wood or metal that "heathens" worship. Or their thoughts turn to the scene in The Ten Commandments where the Israelites are dancing around the golden calf. In a lot of Christian circles, an idol is something such as drinking, entertainment, or some other "sin" that keeps a person from becoming a Christian. It can be any of those things, but I think idolatry is more insidious and widespread than we would like to believe. We Christians can have idols.
An idol can be our status, whether it's our status in the community or our place in the church. It can be our job, or any of the things that come because of that job. It can be our church, or the building it meets in. It can be our particular denomination, or the fact that we don't belong to one. It can be the fact that we worship using a particular liturgy, or the fact that we don't use a liturgy. It can be the history of our particular church, or the newness of our gathering. An idol can be the institution we are a part of, or it can even be the simple, organic way in which we meet.
An idol can be a particular preacher that we like to watch on TV or hear on the radio. It can even be the leader of our local gathering. It can be an author that we love reading, or a blog that is important to us. It can be a set of doctrines, and the correctness of those doctrines. An idol can be our faith, or our doubts. We can make an idol of our humility. An idol can be our family, or our relationships with friends. Our community of believers can be an idol, as can the very idea of community itself. We can even make an idol of God, or at least our concept of God.
Essentially, an idol is anything from which we find our identity apart from God. There are so many ways we try to get our identity, and it is very easy to put those things in the place of God and how Jesus wants us to follow him. As followers of Jesus our identity can only be truly found in Christ. All of the other things in our life, whether they are things of this world or things that a gracious Father has given us are not what life is about. Life is about Christ, and following him. He may or may not grant us certain things, but our calling is to simply follow. That means putting our self, and everything that goes along with our self, to death and finding our life in Christ only.
Father, help us to find our life and identity in Jesus Christ. Help us to keep you first and only. Be our all in all.
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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