Why We Struggle With Idols

16 Nov

Recently, I heard a sermon on idols and our proclivity to give things in our life, (whether good or bad) more importance than God himself. That in itself, is idolatry.

I used to define addiction as anything that pulled us out of ourselves. In many ways, I think of idolatry as a form of addiction. If we substitute the word “ourselves” for “God”, we basically have a similar phenomenon. Addiction (aka idolatry) is anything that pulls us away from God. 

The sermon I heard was a week ago and without my notes, I can’t really remember the salient points of how to counter idolatry other than to 1) pray about it; 2) become mindful of it and 3) throw the idol away, flee from it and/or transform one’s relationship to it so that it has less of a stronghold. But despite not having my notes on the sermon, I’m obviously still thinking about it, or I wouldn’t be writing on the topic.

What comes to mind is that idolatry is more complex than just habit or laziness or becoming less focused on God. When push comes to shove, even though we may like the gratification of our idols, I don’t think any of us really wants to be obsessed with anything – good or bad. I don’t want to be obsessed with my talents and hobbies anymore than I do my relationships or some unhealthy substance or behavior. Nor do I want to be obsessed with my delusions. And yet, over and over, we fall into idolatry on a regular basis. Why?

I think because when we move towards consciousness and start to give up the things that are gripping us, something major happens. As we move away from idolatry to face God, we also have to face ourselves. Look at “the man (or woman) in the mirror”. And quite frankly, that is PAINFUL. When we start giving things up – things that buoy us and keep our deepest wounds at bay, then we get to the next phase of worship: SACRIFICE. When we sacrifice our numbness so that we can be better people, be in relationship with God and ultimately have happier lives, de-thawing can be brutal, (particularly when your whole life sometimes feels like a sacrifice). For a moment that feels oh so much longer, facing primitive wounds can feel like falling into an existential pit of pain so *&^%$ deep, you think you’re going to die. 

And this is when we need God the most.

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