I’ve been sharing some thoughts concerning the last message of warning given to a dying planet – Revelation 14:6-12. Although this message is for “those who dwell on the earth,” people who are not in a relationship with God and don’t give God glory, the last part of the first angel’s message speaks to all of us: “Worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Everyone needs to hear the call to worship him who made because human hearts are idol factories. With no effort at all we often look to people and things for what only God can give. We regularly turn good things into ultimate things.
Our idols are not easy to spot because they are entrenched in our lives; it’s to the point we like to pretend they’re not there. Sure we can pick on what we idolize culturally – sports teams, musicians, and TV stars. Sometimes we will rail against the big three idols of the world – Power, Money, and Sex. But the deeper we go, the less we like to talk about our idols and the harder they become to see. Family, traditions, nationalism like Jonah, our careers, certainty, and prosperity can all be idols to us. We can even make idols in our faith experiences such as the idol of successful ministry, the idol of correct doctrine, and the idol of moral performance.
How can we discover where are idols are so they can be rooted out? Try out these questions:
Is there anything in my life where I am saying: “If only I could _____________ then I’ll be happy” or “If only I had more ______ then I would be good to go; able to handle anything”?
Is there something I am pursuing at all costs; is there something I have been sacrificing the really important things to?
What do I daydream about? I don’t mean you dream about being on a beach somewhere warm when it gets cold. I’m talking about habitually daydreaming about having something that will certainly complete your joy.
How am I spending my money? Where your treasure is, that’s where your heart is. “Your money will also flow effortlessly towards your greatest love.”
When I pray for something and I don’t get it, how do I react? Do I experience anger or deep despair?
Anything coming to mind? If so, take it to God right now and ask if it’s an idol to you. If it is, it needs to be uprooted and smashed; it’s sucking the life out of you. However, that’s not enough. You must plant something else in it’s place: The love of God. Meditate on it, daily receive it, give it out to others; let it saturate your being.
(I would like to give a nod to Timothy Keller whose perspectives on idols have been life changing for me.)