Question 16: What is idolatry?
Idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security.
What are our idols? Or, an easier way to think of it is, “What is REALLY important to me?” “In what do I REALLY trust?” “What would I REALLY miss most if it was gone?” “What do I REALLY get my hope and happiness, significance and security from?” Is it my job or position? Is it my income or bank account balance? Is it my home or other material possessions? Is it my hobby? Is it a particular skill or ability? All of these are gifts from God and, when kept in the proper perspective, are fine. But, we are all probably already aware that any of these can also easily become our idol…. what we passionately pursue and trust in place of God.
As I was praying about this question, I was led to another idol that seems to be a little more camouflaged and probably more dangerous than the ones we usually think of. It can take years to quietly develop and can easily permeate every part of our lives... almost naturally. It is one that probably all of us have battled at various points in our life… or, at least I know I have. It is the idol called “Self.”
This idol is fed and grows as we go about our normal activities. It sometimes hides behind accomplishments and even good deeds. It thrives on feelings that it has to be in control and on opportunities to share, what is undoubtedly, the correct answer or solution in any situation. It looks at whatever it does as a time to figure things out on its own and take personal pride in what it perceives as a positive result, or looks for a place to lay blame on a poor one. If left unchecked, it can easily grow to the point that it exudes a false confidence that it is the ultimate thing and that it needs nothing else… not even God.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened… Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools… Romans 1: 21-22
On whom or what can we truly trust as our hope and happiness, significance and security?
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit… Jeremiah 17:7-8
I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one… John 10:28-30