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Spiritual Growth

Have I created an idol out of you?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

There is a story found in Acts 10 regarding one of Jesus’ disciples – Peter. He was summoned to the city of Caesarea by a man named Cornelius, who had received divine instruction to invite Peter to his house. In verses 25-26, we read:

As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.”

In that moment, Peter sent a clear message – humans are not to be worshiped.

The Risk in Idol Worship

Nevertheless, it is common today for us to create gods out of humans. We’re taught to believe that extraordinary talents or those with immense wealth and/or power are somehow better than you and I. Society conditions us to place these people on a pedestal and asks of us to devote our time and loyalty to their causes. As we feed these sources of admiration, we begin to desire what they have or simply to be associated with it. Obsession begins to take over as we partake in idol worship of our fellow man.

Yet there are those of us who would say – that is not me. I do not worship celebrities or political leaders. And while that may be true, we still run the risk of making gods out of our children, in-laws, spouses, and those that hold a special place in our lives. The need for their approval fuels our own significance as we begin to love them more than God. Unfortunately, when this happens, we end up sacrificing our morals, sensibilities, and even our trust in God… all in the name of acceptance.

Idolization of any form is dangerous. We lose sight of what God has for us, as we place our wellbeing, moral compass, and standards for our own lives into another imperfect human’s hands. We give away our control as we break God’s first commandment – You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:3) So be watchful because people steeped in sin love idol worship; they, themselves want to be idolized. And we should not expect them to tell us to stop. It is their own need for acceptance and/or power that fuels this destructive fire. If we are blessed enough to escape, we will still carry the emotional scars that will need to be healed.

So how do we know we’ve created an idol?

We make idols out of humans when we use humans to fill the voids in our own hearts. Loneliness, a lack of self-esteem, a craving for worldly possessions, and the desire to be needed/valued are just a few traits that open us up to idol worship. Instead of focusing on God to cleanse and focus our hearts, we choose manmade solutions. At times, this points us in the direction of idolizing others.

Once this happens, we begin to blind ourselves to their humanity. Accountability is lost as we excuse or simply ignore their behaviors. We place their needs above our own, even to the point at which it negatively impacts us. Our lives become solely about their approval. Over time, we don’t realize that our allegiance has gone too far. We see this obsession when it comes to political leaders, musicians, actors, children, and even employees – it’s literally everywhere. These people become our gods because we’ve stopped putting the true God first.

Instead, those we idolize recognize the benefits of this flawed approach and take full advantage of us. For some, there is just too much temptation in what can be gained including absolute power, favoritism, financial advantage, and manipulative control. Our admiration fuels their misbehavior because they get to live with little accountability but much trust. Yet one of the deepest issues in all of this, is that some of us want to be those people. We want to be worshipped and experience the perceived benefits. We want to be in a position of power and to control the narrative as well as they do.

Stand up; I myself am also a man.

Yet, if we go back to Peter’s response to Cornelius bowing down as his feet, we can learn three very important lessons about idol human worship:

  1. All humans are equal. Peter spent time with Jesus who is the Messiah and the son of God. By association, Peter could have thought of himself as better than others or expect that others worship him. Instead, Peter, in that short sentence, proclaimed that as humans, we are on equal ground.
  2. We are not God. I know society would like us to believe that we are gods, or at least famous people are – but we, and they, are not. Only God is God, and only He deserves our worship, our praise, and most importantly – our priority. In Isaiah 55:9, God reminded us of this when He said: “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
  3. When we see something wrong, we should speak up. I appreciate that Peter immediately took action. He asked Cornelius to stand up, and then explained why. In our spiritual journeys, we should use our voices, in love, to stand for God and to be a living testimony. We are His witnesses here on Earth, and our choices matter not just to ourselves, but to the salvation of those around us.

So in closing…

I would like to leave you with this final request. Think carefully about where you place your energy and your time. Think about your priorities to see if there is anything or anyone that you are putting before God. If there is, take it to the cross in prayer. God will give you the strength and focus needed to redirect and reprioritize. There is always hope with God as long as you are willing to do your part. God bless & remember… love is always an action.

Thanks for reading. Please share your thoughts below!

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