I pastor a church in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles—not the two or three square miles that would actually be Hollywood, but Hollywood is more of a brand that sets a tone for life not just in LA, but around the world.
“Pastor, will you pray for me? I need help. I used to have such a passion for God. I don’t have the faith I desire in my life. I want to be close to God again.” Lisa is a young girl who is smart, gifted and has so much going for her in life.
In our conversation, I discovered she was living with her boyfriend. I said to her, “You need to move out from living with him.”
“I couldn’t do that. We’ve been together for so long. We love each other.” She protested.
“You can’t have it both ways. You need to decide whom you want to serve and whom you want to honor.” I told her.
She made her choice—she stayed with the young man and let her faith continue to dwindle.
Darryl became more and more effective at work. He was promoted two times in the same year and the joy of his progress was recognizable. Unfortunately, so was his increasing absence in church. He served less and less. He seemed distracted when he was around and needing to go “to an appointment.” He did not get as much from worship or the sermons that he used to. Eventually, he seemed to lose his faith altogether.
Success at work is really important, but to many, like Darryl, it becomes an idol.
Idols are as powerful as they ever were.
Almost anything can be or become an idol: work, career, a boyfriend or girlfriend, society, approval, cars, homes, money, sex … and on and on. Most of these are good—in their right place.
Anything that keeps us from following the Word of God or obeying God is an idol.
Jesus taught people, “You can’t serve God and mammon.” Mammon is the spirit of materialism, and materialism is a strong distraction.
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” Matthew 6:24-25 NIV
There is nothing wrong with clothing, food or money. It does matter what place they take in your heart.
I can feel the concern of the Apostle John as he wrote, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” 1 John 5:21 NIV
He knew how idols could destroy a genuine faith.
So, how do we protect ourselves from idols?