“You shall have no gods besides me”-Exodus 20:3
As a Christian in the 21st century, I think we often overlook this commandment. We figure we believe in God, we know Jesus died for our sins, and we’re not walking around worshiping carved out statues of pagan gods so we’re good right?
Not so much.
While we may not be worshiping gods of other religions, idolatry is still very much a part of our daily lives. I think living in our society makes it really difficult to identify these other “gods” that we put before the Lord. How many of us chase after careers where we’ll make tons of money? Or feel like we absolutely need to have the latest version of whatever hot piece of technology is out this week? Have our Sunday church services become a highlight event of the week because we can’t wait to hear what the pastor has to say…while we ignore the Word of God that sits next to our bed all week?
Idolatry has manifested itself in so many different ways that we often overlook the effect it is having in our lives. Many people struggle with drugs or drinking. That has become their idol. When things get hard instead of turning to the Lord they turn to a bottle to temporarily give them relief. As a woman I know firsthand how easily we can make a relationship into an idol. People chase after a relationship or a future spouse to fill a void that only the Lord can.
Then there’s American Idol. We have a show where we actually create idols. Whitney Houston recently passed away and people were hysterical crying on the news. They weren’t friends of Ms. Houston. In fact, the majority of them had never even met her. Yet they wore shirts with her face on them, bawled their eyes out as if they had just lost their mom, and crowded the town of Newark just to get a glance at her casket. Celebrities are idols. Singers, movie stars, even Tim Tebow, can become idols when people take their interest too far.
Men and women across the country struggle daily with lust. The human body has become something many worship. In some ways people idolize bodies by spending hours at the gym while others get caught up in the black hole of internet porn sites. We end up putting desire for the perfect body or desire to be with a certain person’s body, before our love for the Lord. We let passion, desire, and lust take hold of our lives. Sure, the Jews in the Old Testament struggled with lust to, but they were not exposed to sex nearly as much as we are. Our culture puts sex on a pedestal and worships all things related to it.
When God gave Moses this commandment, he knew that every generation there after would struggle with some form of idol, even if it wasn’t a god carved out of wood. He knew that we as fallen humans could turn anything into an idol. All an idol is, is a replacement for God in our lives. When we take our eyes off of God we leave ourselves open to turning silly things into our idols.
A wise pastor once said, “How do you know if you have an idol? Think with me about the following statements, you fill in the blanks. “Lord I’ll give you anything but.” What would you exclude from God? How about this statement? “Lord I’ll do anything for you but.” Is there something that you simply would not do for the Lord? How about this? “Lord I’ll change anything in my life for you but.” Are there habits you will not give up? Are there places you will not forgo? Are there relationships which you should not have, which you will not forfeit?