An idol, simply put, is a false god. Although scripture warns us time and time again not to fall prey to idolatrous behavior, it’s one of the most prevalent sins. Over time, the meaning of the word has evolved, allowing its true denotation to be hidden. For instance, in the old testament of the bible, we see the original meaning of the word in action through carved idols, such as Israel’s golden calf. In the new testament, however, we find a world a bit more paralleled to our own where idolatry takes the form of physical pleasures and worldly pursuits. Still, today’s iteration of the word proves itself more cunning through shows like, “American Idol,” where we are encouraged to idolize others for their talents and abilities.
The connotative evolution of the word has made the act of idolization difficult to spot. While the church has gotten comfortable with the lie that idolatry exists only in worldly behavior, satan has weaved this sin into the body of Christ in ways undetected. To be clear, anything we put before God in our life is an idol. This includes, but is not limited to: marriage, spouses, children, careers, obsessions, entertainment that doesn’t glorify God, and… fear. Yes, fear. That’s what I want to talk about.
As I was having QT with God a week or so ago, I was mulling over some ideas He had inspired within me. I tried to tip toe around addressing why I’d been dragging my feet in pursuing them but before I could deflect into more pleasant conversation, God outed me: you have made an idol of fear. It took me a moment to grasp that reality because I’d never thought of negative emotions as idolatry. I viewed them as struggles to overcome, not idols to strike down. But as I pondered God’s revelation, I began to understand that idolatry is not limited. Anything outside of God has the potential to be an idol; anything we place over God IS an idol. Even things of God. Hear me. Marriage, for instance was created by God as something good. However, If I were to obsess over a desire to be married, I would then be worshiping the creation (of marriage in this instance) and not the creator Himself. In my case, God didn’t even create the fear I had, and yet I bowed to it. I allowed it to dictate my decisions, define my abilities, and appraise my worth. I was living in light of my fear, not my faith.
My faith will not be belittled by my fear. I don’t want that for you, I don’t want it for myself, and it’s not what God has for either of us. But it’s important that we keep our spirits alert and our armor fastened tightly about us because satan will enter in through whatever door is open.
Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.1Peter 5:8
I wanted to shed light on fear as an idol, specifically, because I think Christians accept it too easily. Yet God has called us to war against the spirit of fear through His Word, prayer, and worship. Take heart in knowing that, God has already defeated the enemy, we are simply at war with his lies.
fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Isaiah 41:10