"Idol." Does anyone really know what this is anymore? We see the word all the time in things like "American Idol," and many Japanese pop stars are called "idols." But do we really know what that word means? Dictionary.com lists it as, "an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed."
We don't have a lot of experience with that kind of idol today. Most of us will never go to India, where there are 330 million gods (along with countless idols everywhere from on street corners to car dashes), and most of us will never physically bow down to a statue, rock, or tree to worship it.
But for Christians, that is not where the definition ends. It cannot end at a physical object that is physically worshiped because God calls us to an internal devotion to Him as well. It is not, nor has it ever been enough to worship Him physically and have a heart that is not His. Even in the Old Testament, where so much emphasis is on ritual and doing things correctly, Israel landed themselves in serious trouble because their hearts weren't in it. It was just a physical thing.
Christianity is no different.
It is not enough for us to sit in church. It is not enough for us to give. It is not enough for us to pray or read or be nice. In fact, nothing we could ever do will ever be enough to gain the promises of God. God wants our hearts. The question is...do we really give it?
Because if we really give our hearts over to Him, our lives will change. If we really give our hearts over to Him, not only will we give and pray and read and sit in church but we will do it because we want to and it will be more important than anything else.
I recently came to a realization that I had an idol in my life. It was video games. I love games. All kinds. I played a lot of games. I kept up on the latest news, I thought about them when I wasn't playing them, and I searched for any deals on them I could find. My personal, private actions showed that video games were more important to me than God. Video games were my idol.
I did not like that answer. For a long time I justified it. "It's on my own time...it's not affecting anybody...I still do my job well and spend time with my family." I thought of every reason to not consider what I was considering. I looked for any way that I could say to myself "this is not an idol."
But it was.
So I made a choice. Last night I took all of my games and put them in a box in the back of a room. For at least one month I will not play any games or read about them. The only exceptions to that rule are 1) I am with the youth group or at a friend's house and they want to play and 2) my little boy is playing and wants some help with something. I will spend none of my personal time entrenched in it. It may sound silly to some, but when it has been your main source of personal entertainment for over 10 years it is difficult to break away from.
The reason I chose at least one month was so that I could break out of the fever I was in and realign myself better with God. At the end of the month I will reassess, and if necessary, continue the self ban on them.
Everyone's idol will be different. For some it is work, for some it is school, for some it is sports and for some it is shopping. Still others may have an idol that does not fall into any of these categories.
It is not OK to have an idol in your life.
Extreme measures may need to be taken. Take them. Align yourself with God and with what He wants from your life. If there is something, anything that takes away from that, it is time for a change.
I've only just started, but I will not be stopping there. Join me in creating a life without idols. A life devoted to the One True God.