Coming to grips with the idols in your life, you’re going to realize you’re a bigger sinner than you thought you were. But also meditating on the gospel, you’re going to realize Jesus is a greater Savior than you thought He was! Remember, those who are forgiven much, love much (Lk. 7:47).
Richard Keys, No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of Our Age:
As modern people we usually think of an idol as an animal or human figure made of stone or wood. We see it as an object for religious devotion or magical power for premodern people who might prostrate themselves on the ground before it. If we have updated the idea at all, we might use ‘idolatry’ to describe someone’s obsessional preoccupations with money or of an ‘idol’ like Elvis Presley. We have, in effect, distanced ourselves from the whole idea of idolatry by pushing it out to the extreme cultural and psychological margins of life.
This distance has produced two problems: First, we misunderstand the most comprehensive description of the shape of unbelief used by the writers of the Bible. If we as Christians today see idolatry only at life’s margins, we will be ill-equipped to use this powerful critical tool as the apostles and prophets did – to understand and challenge the surrounding world. The second problem is similar to the first but even more important. If we do not understand the nature of idolatry, we will not be able to recognize or guard against it in our own lives and communities.
Man’s nature is a perpetual factory of idols.
An idol is not simply a statue of wood, stone, or metal; it is anything we love and pursue in place of God, and can also be referred to as a ‘false god’ or a ‘functional god’. In Biblical terms, an idol is something other than God that we set our hearts on (Luke 12:29; 1 Cor. 10:6), that motivates us (1 Cor. 4:5), that masters or rules us (Ps. 119:133), or that we serve (Matt. 6:24).
An idol [he says] is anything more fundamental than God to your happiness, your meaning in life, or your identity.
Tim Keller quoting David Foster Wallace:
Everybody worships [Wallace said]. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god… to worship… is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough… Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure, and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before [your loved ones] finally plant you. . . . Worship power, and you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. Look, the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they are evil or sinful; it is that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
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