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“But the God of Israel is no idol! He is the Creator of everything that exists, including his people, his own special possession.” (Jeremiah 51:19)

It has been described by some to be one of the most impactful shows in American television history determined by its ratings and the number of stars it had produced.  Ever since its first season in 2002, the singing competition series American Idol was the place to go to see some of the country’s best-hidden talent, along with others who thought they had talent but should have just stayed in hiding. The concept of the series involved discovering recording stars from unsigned singers with the viewing audience selecting the winner. Just a few years after its debut – it became the most-watched show on U.S. television, a position it then held for seven consecutive seasons. At the end of the show’s 15-year run, its contestants had produced enormous revenue with sales of more than 60 million albums. While there is an innocent tendency to become captivated by the excitement generated around emerging personalities, we have to be cautious about who and what we allow to become our personal idols.

Idol worship was prevalent at the time of the prophet Jeremiah and caused him to issue this warning to the nation of Israel: “Their ways are futile and foolish. They cut down a tree, and a craftsman carves an idol. They decorate it with gold and silver and then fasten it securely with hammer and nails so it won’t fall over. Their gods are like helpless scarecrows in a cucumber field! They cannot speak, and they need to be carried because they cannot walk. Do not be afraid of such gods, for they can neither harm you nor do you any good” (Jeremiah 10:3-5). As we unveil the latest Halloween costumes each year, it’s always interesting to see what characters are on display. It seems as though the innocence and fun associated with Halloween over the years have come to be replaced with evil acts such as vandalism, destructive pranks, glorification of sensuality, death, and demons. Even though idolatry is a topic which many see as antiquated and outdated, it should be obvious from a Christian perspective that these modern practices should fall subject to concern.

An idol is anything or anyone other than God that we allow to influence or control our lives. Idolatry can be practiced in many forms. Evangelist Billy Graham says: “Take, for example, our preoccupation with money and material possessions. These aren’t necessarily wrong, of course; we need them to take care of our loved ones and make our lives comfortable. But both can easily become ‘idols’ that we slavishly follow and allow to become the most important things in our lives.”  Whenever our needs become focused on the acquisition of the “bigger and better” – things that really matter will be pushed away, and God becomes secondary if not forgotten. Paul wrote. “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:10). There’s nothing inherently evil about money, but loving it can lead you into many forms of evil. Jesus warned against the worship of material things. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money” (Matthew 6:24).

If we are to escape modern idolatry, we have to admit that it is rampant and reject it in all forms.  We have been given this commandment: “You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind, or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them…” (Deuteronomy 5:7-9). We need to examine our lives to determine if we regard our self, our power and possessions as the center of the universe instead of looking to God as the creator and sustainer of all. We must pay careful attention to what we love. For it is only when we love the Lord first and foremost that there will be no room in our hearts for idolatry.

REFLECTION: Is there anything you feel you cannot live without? Is there anything or anyone in your life whom you love more than God? Consider praying and asking God to reveal the idols which may have crept into your life – even the inherently good things which you’ve elevated to a higher place than they ought to be.


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