- An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship.
This kind is obvious and in my opinion much easier to avoid
- Extreme admiration, love, or reverence for something or someone.
This is the kind of idolatry I need to guard my heart against, this kind is less explicit, you could be doing it and not even realise.
An idol is anything that replaces the one, true God.
When we think about idolatry we often only think of the worship of other physical images besides God but this is only a basic and quite simple form of idolatry and though still in existence in some cultures is less frequent today than Biblical times.
The Bible compares idolatry to adultery (hopefully this is going to help to break it down). Hosea illustrates an (his) unfaithful wife who represents Israel. By practicing idolatry it was like the people of Israel were ‘cheating’ on God.
We know that God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5). Jealous in the sense that He doesn’t want to share what is His. His people, His worship…You know, kind of like a man/women getting jealous if their wife/husband was flirting with someone else.
Let’s continue with this relationship metaphor:
What could stir up one’s jealousy in a relationship?
• Spending very little time with you and much more time with someone else
• Talking a lot about someone else to you
• Talking less with you
Everything is not black and white in a relationship but in ‘normal’ circumstances this person is ‘cheating’.
This is how it is with God.
What are examples of modern idolatry?
This list is not exhaustive and you’ll find that actually these things are not necessarily bad but it is the excessive use of, dedication to, and time spent on these things that make them destructive:
• Seeking after countless and obsolete material possessions (covetousness).
• Seeking value from any relationship outside of a relationship with God.
• Finding more delight in doing other things than spending time with God.
• Being career driven we can agree isn’t terrible however when your career is all you live for, all that occupies your mind and your time, there a problem may lie. Your vocation is not your highest calling.
• Craving, wanting, enjoying and being satisfied by anything that you treasure more than God.
So what is an idol in the modern day?
Well, it is the thing or the person loved more than God, wanted more than God, desired more than God, treasured more than God or enjoyed more than God.
It could be a girlfriend. It could be good grades. It could be the approval of other people. It could be success in business. It could be sexual stimulation. It could be a hobby or a musical group that you are following.
It is serving what was created rather than the Creator (Romans 1:25)
See how sneaky these things are? It is important that we make an effort to guard our hearts.
Let’s remember that there was a happy ending in Hosea as he forgave his adulterous wife and God forgave the people of Israel.
His Grace and Love is Sufficient.
Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.(1 John 5:21)