The Apostle Paul says that at the core of all our sin is idolatry. He didn’t just mean bowing down to statues (though that counts). Idolatry is much bigger than that: It’s deciding something has such worth and weight that we think possessing it is the key to a happy life. So we prioritize it over knowing and obeying God.
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship” (CSB).
Paul is asserting that worship should be an eminently reasonable, common-sense response to what God has done.
Yet at the core of everyone’s sin is a worship disorder. So, what is that for you? What in your life has ultimate worth? What is the key to a happy life? What do you feel you couldn’t be happy without?
If you really want to uncover the things in your life that steal your worship from God, then you need to do an Idolatry Detection Test.
1. Fill in this blank: The thing I’d be most worried about losing is ________________.
(Don’t write down “God.” That’s cheating.)
Is it your family? Money? Respect? Success? Be honest with yourself. Just because you write something down doesn’t mean it is an idol.
2. Fill in this blank: The thing I’d be most worried about never attaining is ________________.
For me, the thing I have been most worried about never attaining is some stature of success. But my wife, like many mothers, tends to answer this with “being a good mom.” It’s not that I don’t care about being a dad, or that she doesn’t care about success. But at the root, we have different idols competing for our hearts.
This is why my moods can sometimes rise and fall based on how well the church is doing, why preaching a bad sermon can be so devastating to me. For Veronica, if the church doesn’t do well, it doesn’t hit her as viscerally. Of course, she cares, but it’s not going to devastate her. But if one of our kids is not doing well in school, then that’s a different story.
So what is it for you?
3. Fill in this blank: “If I could change ________________ about myself right now, I would.”
Is this your career, your living situation, or your looks? Again, there is nothing wrong with these desires for change, but it is important to be aware.
4. Throughout your life, what have you been most willing to sacrifice for?
Worship and sacrifice always go hand in hand. You are willing to sacrifice to gain the favor of whatever you worship.
Again, I sacrifice for success and reputation. Why do I have a propensity to overwork? I want to be successful. Why? Because I want to walk across the street one day and overhear someone say, “There goes J.D. Greear …”
It’s dumb, I know. Don’t do this to me if you see me at the mall.