A Grave(n) Matter

"You must not worship or serve any idol." (Exodus 20:5a, The Everyday Bible, New Century Version) This commandment is a lot harder to take sitting down than the "don't murder" commandment. Let's be honest here, we all have idols. Yes, even you. Even us.

Who or what are our idols? How about Hollywood celebrities? Do you have a favorite? Do you read everything about this hero you can? Or perhaps it's an athlete. Most of us have some person who we think is the greatest. The problem with these idols is they fall from grace, and they often let us down. Their goals and dreams do not reflect the Christian lifestyle most of the time. What they love is not what God loves. We will also very likely never meet them.

How about technology? Is your computer your idol? Your Game Boy? PlayStation? Nintendo? How about your CD collection or your DVD player? The big screen TV? Where do you place your pride?

Are you ready for football?

Gambling? Drugs? Money? Alcohol? Addictions are idols because they dominate our lives, to the point of dominating our physical being and our minds.

What we take as our gods neither last nor satisfy.

Our images and reputations can be our idols and we can expend great energy on damage control, when what is really called for is perhaps as simple as an apology. When how people perceive us becomes more important than the truth and more important than love of others, we've missed the mark, and our reputation is our idol.

Even Christ is not an idol to be worshiped or merely admired. Christ is the living Son of God, whose footsteps we must follow if we dare to call ourselves Christians. We can't just hang a cross around our neck and pretend this gives us value. If we don't live the Christian life, we're using the symbol of the cross as an idol.

Sometimes we idolize hatreds and fantasize about revenge. That idol of hatred is gone if we follow the teaching of Christ, who clearly tells us, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44, NRSV) If we love our enemies, they are no longer our enemies.

Focusing on how good we feel when we're "religious" is a form of idolatry-we're more in touch with ourselves, focus more on ourselves, than we do on God. It's not about feeling good--it's about keeping God first--above everything else.

Our giving can be idolatry. We are called to give quietly, without drawing attention to ourselves or making ourselves seem special.

When one man proclaimed that he wanted to follow Jesus, what he really wanted was the glory. He was an admirer of Jesus. Jesus reminded him that the Son of God has no place to lay his head (Luke 9:57,58). While we are not told what this man did next, we are led to believe that the man turned away from Jesus. As he did with so many who came to him out of proclaimed loyalty, Jesus knew what this man wanted more than anything, more than eternal life. He sought notoriety and thought that by following Jesus, he would find it.

On Sunday morning, do we dress up and go to church to be seen, to show our neighbors that we are holy, that we attend church? How many of us go to seek the word of God? Church, our church, our beautiful building and the beautiful music are not idols. Our self-righteousness is not an idol. We are not worthy of being worshiped, despite what we'd like to think. When we give ourselves to Christ, we follow where he leads, not where we will. We do it for his glory, not our own.

Can you get around your idols and follow where Christ is trying to lead
you?