According to a study from Lifeway Research, more than half of U.S. Protestant pastors believe their congregations are significantly influenced by a range of idols. Two thirds of pastors say the people of their church worship the idol of comfort; 56% say we worship our own sense of control or security; 55% see money as an idol for congregants, and 51% are concerned about their people’s need for approval.
So, what is your idol?
If you’re brutally honest, is your heart divided?
We all know that the first and greatest commandment is that we are love the Lord our God with all our heart –a heart undivided –God above all other affections, God alone. And yet…
So, again, what makes your list of idols? We give God lip service but we do we really love God more than we love our children? Do we love God more than we love our material security? Do we love God more than we love our country? Do we love God more than we love our own life?
If you’re wondering how to test or measure such a thing, try this: in reality, do you think of
- Your children as your own,
- your home as your own,
- your future as your own,
- your body as your own,
- your comfort or your sense of security as ultimately more important than God’s glory or His will?
If so, I’m sorry to inform you, it’s an idol.
While we are to love, appreciate and serve our spouse, children, parents, neighbors, nation, home, vocation, health and even avocations, it is a love of secondary nature. We are not to love them in a way that disorders our love of God by superseding it.
Here’s a self-test:
- Consider the demand God issued to Abraham and ask yourself: is my child an idol?
- Consider the demand God issued to Peter, Andrew, James, John to leave their nets –their families and their livelihood –to follow Jesus and ask yourself: is my family or is my job an idol?
- Consider the demand God has placed on every person who has ever turned from some other religion or some other person or some worldly fortune to the Way of Christ and ask yourself: am I treating my life as if it is my own, these things as my own, my future as my own?
The question is not, “do I love God?” The question is “do I love God above/beyond/more than these?
- More than my children or grandchildren,
- more than my social security,
- more than my reputation or position,
- more than physical health,
- more than financial wealth,
- more than positional authority, job, status, rank or influence?
Read John 21:15-19 (recalling John 13:31-38 and John 18:15-27 where Jesus predicts Peter’s denial and Peter denies Jesus three times). When Jesus asks Peter if he loves him “more than these,” what are the idols in Peter’s life Jesus had in mind?
Returning to the concern of our life and discipleship, do you love Jesus more than “these?”
Pastors are NOT wrong to believe that many Americans who attend church are idolaters. Those who place comfort, security, money, family, approval, worldly influence, bodily autonomy…anything… over God are guilty of failing to keep the very first commandment: “You shall have no other gods before me.” The second commandment prohibits making a material representation of our idols, but the first commandment prohibits we have them at all.
If, upon consideration, you discover idols in your life, acknowledge your sin before God. Allow Him to graciously forgive, which He stands ready to do.