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Idols: When Good Things Become Ultimate

Why do we become obsessed? With people. With places. With little trinkets we save for and purchase, only to be let down by the lack of satisfaction they offer.

Why do we create pseudo-universes that revolve around our career, or our marriage, our talents? Or other things that can be snatched away from us in a split second.

In other words, why do we entertain idols?

Why are we dabbling in, even being dominated by, idolatry?

God gives us so many beautiful things to enjoy for our pleasure and use for his glory. Good things.  But when a good thing becomes the ultimate thing, that’s idolatry. When we look to a good thing to fulfill needs that it was not created to fulfill, that’s idolatry.

Here’s a simple definition that you can assume whenever I refer to “idolatry” or “idols”—

Idolatry n. [ah-dol-uh-tree]

Craving or experiencing satisfaction in anything that you treasure or pursue more than God.

Essentially, it’s a disordering of our desires.

The only effects of idolatry that we see in the scripture are poverty, isolation, and overall total destruction of not just individual lives, but entire communities.

I believe that idolatry is the root of all sin and decadence. Individually, corporately, and globally.

Seeking and finding pleasure in things that are created, instead of seeking and finding pleasure in the creator, is the booby trap of society.

It’s easy to read scripture and separate ourselves from the idols of the Bible, because most of us don’t worship little handmade statues or golden animals made from our melted heirloom jewelry. It’s easy to give ourselves a pass. Easier not to engage with the conflicts that owning our idolatry would inevitably lead to.

In this series, I want to explore these conflicts, investigate why we avoid them, and offer some insight into how we can navigate through them. This is not easy, but it’s necessary if we are going to live a transformed life in Christ.

Not because I said so, but because God does. And as the loving giver of every good thing, the should know, right?

In Genesis 35 when the Lord told Jacob to go to Bethel and build an altar to God, Jacob’s immediate response was to order his family to search through all of their belongings and throw away every idol in their possession. Jacob was a first things first kind of guy. He knew that he could not lead his family to the next place God was calling them to—a place where they would encounter God like never before—if they held on to their idols.

This is my heart for this series of essays—first things first. God is perpetually calling each of us to a new place in Christ, but we won’t experience the full blessing of that place if we bring our idols with us.

So stay tuned! I’ll be addressing some specific idols along the way. This was just an introduction.

By Shawndra Lucas

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