Contemporary idolatry

By Dave Henning / May 12, 2013

In Chapter 8 (“Work Reveals Our Idols”) of Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller observes that when contemporary people hear the word idols, they are most prone to think of celebrities in the sports or entertainment world.  Another image might be of primitive tribes bowing down to inanimate objects.  Additionally, Pastor Keller points out that when the word idols is connected to work, the implication is that the person is either a workaholic or voraciously greedy.

While these all are legitimate uses of the term, the author points out that they are “only the most extreme cases of the powerful and pervasive conception that is at the heart of biblical faith”.  When we think only in extreme terms, we are apt to think the concept doesn’t apply to us, thus failing to deal with the idols we set up in our own hearts.  Idolatry is not necessarily a physical process, but is certainly is spiritual and psychological.

Martin Luther argued that the 10 Commandments begin by prohibiting idolatry because we never break the other commandments unless we’ve broken the first.  Pastor Keller comments on what happens when anything other than God becomes our “salvation”:

” . . . we must have it, and so we treat it as nonnegotiable.  If circumstances threaten to take it away, we are paralyzed with uncontrollable fear; if something or someone has taken it away, we burn with anger and struggle with a sense of despair.”

Question:  What personal idols have been revealed by your ministry downsizing or position loss?  How has this realization helped you to begin healing?

Tomorrow’s blog: “The rest of the story”

About the author

Dave Henning

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