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Smashing Idols: Why Today's Church Leaders Must Still Fight the Same Old Battle

Be Troubled By Your Own Idols

Acts 17 tells the story of Paul in Athens and how his spirit was “troubled within him when he saw that the city was full of idols” (Acts 17:16). It is a fascinating passage that we often miss. Are our spirits troubled within us because of the idols of our culture?

I’m not referring only to the idols “out there.” This isn’t just about our neighbors’ idols. We must recognize that we’re all drawn to some of those idols. And the people in our churches are all drawn to those idols, as well.

Seeing people trapped in idolatry should inspire compassion for their souls, as they are trapped in foolishness. But it also should spark detest for anything that would set itself up against the one true God.

Pastors, Preach Against Idols

Idols don’t leave on their own. In the power of the gospel, we have to tear them down—to destroy them. We need to remove them from our lives and depart from them. Pastors need to identify and preach against idols.

As our love for God increases, our tolerance for idolatry will decrease.

What are some of the great idols of our broader culture? What are some of the idols in the church culture? And what specific idols are built in the context of ministry leadership?  

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Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.