My entry for today on wordpress :)

American Idolatry – the everyday believer

The Wikipedia version of defining ‘idol’ is an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed or any person or thing regarded with admiration. If someone were to suggest that we serve ‘idols’ using this definition, we’d laugh at them or at least pause for a few seconds in disbelief. As believers, we can’t imagine worshiping something other than the one true God of Abraham. But, if we are honest, every single day, we are faced with temptations. Situations, people, and ideas are presented to us that pose as challenges and potential threats to our faith, sometimes on a daily basis.

But, there is a way to determine if you are worshiping something other than God, in your everyday life. There was a priest about five years back who gave a very memorable homily at a local parish, and part of it went something like this, perhaps you’re familiar – ‘Where you spend your time, treasure and talent, is what is most important to you.’ And if we commit to taking a deep inventory of our lives, we could easily identify what is most important to us, if we were to take pen to paper, and list them all. If anything, look at your bank account statement online, and you’ll see where you have been spending your money. Look at your Facebook page, and that will tell you where you’re posting the most ‘likes.’ If you find yourself planted in a bar every Friday and Saturday night, unable to drive yourself home afterwards, that will best reveal how you spend your time.

No one is perfect, and we all fall short of the mark, in terms of resembling Jesus. He was sinless, but He suffered at times in his earthly life. This doesn’t mean He was weak, it meant that He suffered, as to feel what we feel, as to call upon His father, and His life serves as an example of how we should live ours. Life is riddled with various stresses, and much of our time, treasure and talent is spent trying to alleviate pain and suffering. We simply can’t bear a few minutes of discomfort, so instead…we cling to our idol(s). The idol could be sexual in nature, or it could revolve around one’s desire to gain affirmation from peers. That right there is a tough one, we are constantly bombarded with imagery, and suggestions as to how to gain more friends or should I say…admirers. Facebook has redefined the term ‘friend’ to mean something it isn’t…and those ‘likes’ that we receive or don’t, end up mattering more than they should. I’ve come to believe that is exactly what most are desiring from social media…admiration, not friendship. And that tireless seeking of it day in, day out…before long, becomes a lost person’s idol.

Other examples of idols could be money, porn, alcohol, drugs, work, status, fame, friends, or hobbies. How we can tell if we’re lost in idolatry, is if we turn to the things of this life, before turning to the Lord in prayer, especially during times of strife and struggle. If we spend our time consumed in the world, using our money, talents and time…on vain attractions and achievements, then…we are in the midst of idolatry.

Could it be said that such a person is worshiping those things? Literally worshiping them? It might not feel like it at that time, but that is the insidious, tempting nature of evil. Evil will never look like a horrid creature coming at us with a pitchfork and red cape. Instead, it will be disguised as something that takes your pain away for the moment, and it will promise you enormous satisfaction, with no delivery. The more time we spend idolizing whatever it is we are idolizing, the weaker we become in God, and the more we lose ourselves in the world. That is what evil is, and how sin envelopes us. Evil is little more than a lie, manufactured to look like something we desperately need. Sin is what we do, when we are convinced of the lie.

Now, there is nothing wrong with enjoying the things of this life, because we do live in the world. But, we have to be careful to not live for the world. When we live our lives in a Christ-centered way, the world will take a backseat to what is most important. Not that the things of this life become meaningless or irrelevant, but with God at the center, we will use our lives in this world, in a way that glorifies Him. And we will become a light for the world, instead of allowing our idols to dim our glow. Jesus said ‘’And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?’’ (Matthew 8:36)

The irony is, you don’t have to wait until you’ve died to know if you’ve lost your soul or not. If you are lost in idolatry, pray that God helps you to find Him. To hear Him. To seek Him. Pray that He finds you, and that your heart is open to hearing His voice. I left Christianity for a few years, and nearly lost my soul. I could feel it…slipping away from me, and relying on myself, I was powerless to stop it. I kept trying to find solace in this world’s empty promises…but, it always left me thirsting for something more. That something more …was God. We all have a God-shaped hole that exists in our hearts, and if you let Him fill it, you will have no room for idols in your life.