21st Century Idolatry

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. 19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. 20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

21 Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. – 1 John 5:13-21 (NIV)

Verse 21 ends this book with an abrupt and simple command.  “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”  We tend to think of idol worship as an activity of primitive cultures.  We think of idols of metal or stone or wood.  The people of John’s day were required to worship the emperor of Rome and had little idols of him.  They were required to burn incense in homage to the emperor to prove their loyalty to the state.  We tend to think that we are so beyond idolatry, but I disagree.  We do have idols in the 21st century.  Think of the things that we worship in our day and age:
  • Money (we even call it the “almighty dollar!”)
  • Fame and celebrity
  • Entertainment (billions spent on movies)
  • Leisure
  • Food
  • Pleasure
  • Toys and gadgets (guilty!)
  • Work
  • Family
  • Sports (guilty again!)

The list could go on and on and on.  An idol is anything that gets in the way of your relationship with God.  I once heard that a great way to discover what you worship is to check two things: your calendar and your checkbook.  What do you spend your time doing and on what do you spend your money?  I’m not saying that work and family and food are bad.  It is when they take God’s place that they become idols.  We say that we’re too busy to pray or go to worship every week and that we can’t afford to tithe.  Our lives are filled with an incredible amount of clutter!  Our time is cluttered and so are our homes.  Take some time today to inventory your life.  Is it time to make some new priorities?  Is it time to de-clutter a little bit?  Can you clear out 15 minutes from your schedule to read your Bible and pray today?  Can you free up some of your resources to give a tithe or offering that expresses your thanksgiving and gratitude to God this weekend?  May we do away with the idolatry in our lives and give our true worship to Jesus.



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