It’s easy to read things like: “those who lavish gold from the purse, and weigh out silver in the scales, hire a goldsmith, and he makes it into a god; then they fall down and worship” (Isaiah 46:6 ESV) or “with their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction” (Hosea 8:4b) and laugh at those ancient fools. Aren’t you glad we’re past that? We know better than to bow down and make sacrifices to little statues, we know they can’t do anything for us … don’t we?
Every year hundreds of actors, directors, writers, producers, musicians, and more do exactly that. They sacrifice their relationships, their dignity, and their lives trying to get a little golden statue that they believe will validate their existence. Being able to display it in their homes is a status symbol. If I have this statue I’ve proven myself … I’m somebody … I’ve made it in this world … I’ll be accepted.
The problem is that it doesn’t work. In fact, it has done the opposite for many. After winning the Oscar, many actresses lost their marriages. It’s become so common that they now call it the “Oscar love curse.” Achieving their idol has truly led to destruction.
It doesn’t stop there. Every year millions of every day people try to get into reality shows so that they can be like their favorite celebrities. If I can become a celebrity I’ve proven myself … I’m somebody … I’ve made it in this world … I’ll be accepted.
Maybe you’re not trying to become a celebrity, but you’re sacrificing something to get what you believe will make you somebody. Your hope is in the promotion, the affection of a co-worker, or the house with curb appeal. You’ll do anything to get it – it’s become an idol to you. You’ll give up on time with your family, manipulate others at work to get ahead, or act dishonestly to be noticed. You believe not getting your idol will be a tragedy. You believe that, if you get it, you’ve proven yourself … you’re somebody … you’ve made it in this world … you’ll be accepted.
But the tragedy isn’t missing out on your idol. The tragedy is getting it. “Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them” (Jonah 2:8 NIV). Jesus said, “what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul” (Mark 8:36 ESV).
There’s nothing wrong with winning an award. There’s nothing wrong with being famous, getting a promotion, falling in love, or having a nice house. But if it’s ultimate, if you’re willing to sacrifice your life for it, it becomes an idol – and you’re worshiping it.
Jesus = Better
The good news is that you’re already somebody … you’re already accepted … because Jesus died for you. Tim Keller says the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ is “that you are more sinful than you ever realized, but you are more loved and approved in Christ than you ever imagined.” So if you know Jesus, you’re already somebody … you’re already accepted. If you don’t, chances are He’s pursuing you and you’re running away from Him.
Idolatry is not dead, but it does kill. Don’t turn away from God’s love for you, don’t forfeit your soul, don’t cling to idols. Trust Jesus … He’s better.