“Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” 1 Corinthians 10:14
A couple weeks ago, I got the opportunity to speak into the lives of some amazing women. The topic was a hard one – but well received.
“What is your idol?”
Of course, we are not talking about American Idol or even a little gold calf. We are talking about the things in our lives that take the place of the one true God. Anything that absorbs your thoughts, your mind and your heart may be an idol. Anything that you give your time, money and resources to, may be an idol.
While not all idols, in and of themselves, are evil, many are. The Holy Spirit as our guide shows us evil and wants us to turn away.
Even well meaning things can become idols. Think of a golden calf. There is nothing wrong with a golden calf – in fact, in some parts of the world, it might be considered art. It is when that object is bowed down to and worshipped that it becomes evil.
So with all of these wonderful women, I asked them to pick an idol and find a table to meet other people in the room who struggle with the same god in their life.
These women were asked to take away their masks and be vulnerable.
How would you answer the question: “What is the one thing in your life that you can’t imagine living without?”
“What, if lost or removed from your life, would cause you great pain, despair and depression that in turn would remove your passion, drive and sense of self-worth?”
Many idols come to mind . . .
For some of us, it might be our job outside the home – it gives us extra income, a sense of significance or security. We like what we do and what we are an expert in. Some of us enjoy being known for something. I remember being an event planner and I could not imagine my life without that label. I admit that it was hard to leave. Now I am never introduced as the big event planner. Instead it is now author, which I am able to give God all the glory because that was all His idea. But the Evil One always wants me to find my significance there, so I feel the struggle.
Money. . . we can’t live without it, but it can take the place of our Lord and Savior! It gives a sense of security. Our husband might be the breadwinner, but we are wrapped up in it – the big houses, the professionally decorated rooms, the expensive clothes, etc. Would you be lost without it? Has materialism become your idol?
Some of you, like me, have a substance as an idol. It might be drugs, alcohol or food. For me it is food, as I am writing this today, I am eating chocolate covered almonds because they help me think (ha, ha) and when I am finished I will have eaten the bag. I have yo-yoed my whole life with food. I binge and purge. Even though I eat very healthy (most of you would say), I still wake up in the morning thinking of what I get to eat today . . . when and how often. Food is an idol because it takes over my thoughts. I can’t imagine living without all this glorious food! And I have had to because of cancer, so then I just made “health” my idol - now we are back to food.
Perhaps it is a relationship, such as a husband, child or emotional attachment to someone else. Can you imagine living without your spouse or your children? Would you be in such a state that you could not continue living? Would you not be able to have a passion for what God is doing in this world and how you can continue it? Have you wound yourself so tightly around those relationships that you could not see beyond them? Have they taken God’s place in your life? Do you put more effort into those relationships than you do your relationship with God?
Health and Beauty
Maybe you are caught up in physical beauty or athletic ability. Does how you look define you? It could disguise itself in “healthy living” or “working out”. I definitely can get caught up in this as I did when I had cancer . . . even now. The question to ask is if you were to become injured, disabled or disfigured, would you consider your life over? If you had cancer, how would you feel? Do you spend more time on how you look, feel or exercise, than you do seeking a relationship with the Lord?
For many of you, media is big struggle. Media can be Facebook, movies, books, music or television. I know for many of you social media is king. When you are stressed, is your first reaction to get on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram? Do we want to scroll and forget, to distract ourselves from whatever is worrying us? Do we try to find relief in our feeds and lose ourselves in the lives of other people for a moment? I can take my mind off of my own problems there. More often than not, we turn to media for relief rather than turning to God. All media is so instant, so accessible, that it’s easier to turn to rather than talk to a God who’s online profile doesn’t exist. Sometimes it’s hard for us to even put down our phone long enough to read our Bible for a half hour or to spend a minute or two of undistracted time with our kids or husbands. I am hardwired for instant gratification and the instant, easily-heard audience social media offers me. TV, movies, books, music, games, etc. offer us an escape. Do you turn on “media” when you should be turning to God? Does your media life equal out to the time spent with God and doing God’s work that He has called us to do???
There are many other idols I have not described here. Is there a hobby or habit that has taken over your thoughts and time? Is there a passion that is not from God that consumes you? Is your reputation more important to you than God’s reputation? It could even be your church or your political affiliation. The ultimate question is: Who is King in your life? Look at your schedule, your checkbook and your thought life to see who or what consumes you.
I found this self-reflection to be very difficult, but also very freeing. Once I sat with other women at the table and heard other confessions, I was able to open up and realize that I am not alone. Accountability found its way into the conversations. These beautiful women were the body of Christ coming together to overcome the Baals of today.
What are your “idols”?
Do you have community in your life to share with?