I’m so grateful for my Calvinist background. One of the Calvin quotes I think about regularly is that the human mind is a perpetual factory of idols.
What this means is that we continually invent new ways to crowd God out of our lives and worship something else. For some of us, that may mean other religions. But for many of us who follow Christ, it just means something other than Christ.
The surprising thing is that so many of the idols we might struggle with today are ordinary things. Some are even good things. Here are some idols I’ve seen…some in me…some around me:
- Coolness, fitness or looks
- Cynicism (Cynics love to be right about everything and down on everyone)
- Pride (that’s when we put ourselves ahead of God and other people)
- Emotional Pain (people can grow more fond of their sad story than the healing Christ offers)
It’s not at all an exhaustive list. Basically, anything that would compete with Christ as first place in your life and mine is an idol. Even your family. Even your kids.
So how do you know it’s an idol? This is what I’ve been working on. Two thoughts:
- If I worry about it a lot it might be an idol. Worry demonstrates an absence of trust in God and shows I want it more than I want Him.
- If I fear what my life would be like without it, it’s probably an idol.
That’s part of my God dialogue. I’m working hard on this because I have a book release coming up this week. I want no anxiety around it. And if it doesn’t sell a single copy, I want to be at total peace with that. The funny thing is, I think I am. Time will tell, but positioning yourself ahead of time can be helpful. I hope that’s where I am. If I can hold it very loosely, it becomes something God can use – not something that can become god.
The side benefit of losing your idols is that it actually brings joy. If your idol was to disappear, you’ve still got contentment, because you’ve got who really matters.
How about for you? What do you think some modern idols are? What would you add to the list?