I don’t watch much television, but recently had the opportunity to view the first show of the new American Idol season. We were watching it because our niece auditioned and thought we might see her on the show. As you probably know, American Idol draws millions of viewers and the winner becomes an instant superstar, idolized by millions.
When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments, the first was that we were not to worship any other gods before God. Back in the days of Moses, this referred to wooden and metal idols that were created by man, given a god name, and worshipped. Although there is still some that today, the biggest idols or gods are more subtle. In this article I’d like to address a few that are prevalent in our American way of life.
From a very young age, we “idolize” movie stars and sports figures. We want to be like those famous people seen on television, in movies, or performing in a sports arena. Yet they are not that different from any of us. Perhaps they have been blessed with a bit more natural talent or they were willing to work harder, but they are still just human beings like you and I. Why do we worship the famous? Fame has become an important part of our American society. We all want our “15 minutes” or more of fame. Why has this become so important? I believe it’s because we think that in order to be significant, we have to be famous. Yet, the Bible tells us that if we believe in Jesus and accept Him into our heart as our Savior and Lord, we are sons and daughters of God, co-heirs with Jesus. WOW, now that’s fame. Instead of seeking worldly fame, we should invest our time and energy into knowing our heavenly Father more intimately, by devoting time daily to prayer, soaking in the presence of God, and meditating over His Word (the Bible). Being a child of God should be fame enough for all of us.
One of the few television shows I watch (when it’s on) is The Apprentice. I love watching these young business superstars (and a few goofballs) compete to become Donald Trump’s apprentice. I think of all the people alive today, Donald Trump magnifies the trappings of “fortune.” He is “Mr. Fortune” in my mind and for many years I wanted to be rich like Mr. Trump. In fact, from a very early age, I planned to be a millionaire by the time I was thirty years old. I focused completely on money and destroyed a marriage and my life. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with money. It is just a tool that can be used for good or evil. Jeremiah 29:11 teaches us that God has a plan to prosper us. Deuteronomy 8:18 tells us that God has given us the ability to create wealth. Clearly from these and many others (my book, God’s Prosperity Plan provides many of these scriptures – you can find it at www.4theLord.com in the Store), God wants to bless His children with wealth. The key is in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” We are not to seek after the fortune, rather we are to seek the giver of the fortune. Throughout the Bible, those who truly sought the Lord, were blessed with wealth – study Abram/Abraham, David, Solomon, and Joseph to name a few. Even Jesus walked in wealth – He had a treasurer to keep track of the money that was given by the wealthy followers and when the Romans crucified Jesus, they cast lots for his seamless robe (a very expensive piece of clothing). I believe that Jesus could have lived in a huge palace, but his mission was short and mobile, so there was no need. Today, God wants more examples of His financial blessing – however He doesn’t want us to seek the money, rather seek Him and He will provide it when we are ready.
I can remember many times saying, “I just want to have fun.” It seems that our society revolves around entertainment. When I was a kid, we had three television channels and listened to records. We went to the movie theater once or twice a year and family entertainment was a board or card game. Today, kids have video games, satellite television with 500 channels, MP3 players, the internet, DVD rentals ordered online and delivered, and monster movie theaters in every shopping center. They grow up expecting to be entertained and even those of us who grew up in the “dark ages” have adjusted and are seeking fun around every corner. So, is it wrong to have fun? I don’t think so. I see King David having a lot of fun in the Bible, but it was always the result of his relationship with God. As with everything, there is the world’s way of doing things and then God’s way. The world’s way is to seek fun activities that will fulfill for the moment, but God’s way is to find joy in every situation. It isn’t wrong to play a video game, watch television or a movie, but when it becomes something that keeps you away from God and the joy that comes from knowing Him, it is an idol. Look at your calendar – are you spending more time entertaining yourself or with God?
What? Now you’re telling me that my friends are an idol? It’s very possible. Do you spend more time with them than you do reading your Bible and talking with God in prayer? Do you attend church just for the social aspects? Again, it’s fine to have friends. In fact God wants us to have human companions. We see a great example of friendship in David and Jonathan. However, we also see that they were both strong men of God. Again, if you are seeking fulfillment in your friendships, it will never happen. Fulfillment only comes from an intimate relationship with God. If Jesus isn’t your best friend, then it’s time to examine your life and make some changes.
Now you’re treading on dangerous ground! Yes, even family can become idols. I love my wife so much that at times I forget about loving God. I love my kids and enjoy spending time with them, but at times I forget that they are really God’s kids and I’m just a steward. My wife and I counsel couples and so often we find that one of the reasons the couple is struggling is because there is too great a focus on the children. Children can very easily become idols. God is a jealous God and He wants your attention. We were created first and foremost to be in relationship with and worship God. The great part is that if we are in right relationship with Him, our marriages will be sweeter and we will be better parents. As with the other idols, if you are spending more time with your family than you do with God, perhaps they have become idols. It’s time to re-evaluate life and re-focus your attention. One great way to do this is to take your family with you – to church, Bible studies, daily devotions, Christian videos, classes, camps, retreats, etc. This will accomplish two things – you will be right focused (so will they) and you can spend time with your family. God’s happy, you’re happy, and hopefully your family is happy. If not at first, as they invest time with God, they will be.
This is actually the easiest idol to recognize. It includes the crazy things we do that we know aren’t right – gambling, drinking, pornography, sexual activities outside of marriage, drugs, and so on. These are all things that our enemy, Satan has created to keep us from right relationship with God. I know of a good Christian family that was recently destroyed by gambling. It started out with lottery tickets, then a little bit of poker, and soon turned into all nighters at casinos and financial devastation. Many families have been destroyed by the enemy through pornography and affairs. The same with drinking and drugs. It’s all foolishness or folly, but also very powerful idols that will keep you from God and destroy your life. If you are engaging in any of these, at any level, STOP now, before it sucks you in and spits you out in pieces.
American Idol may be a popular television show, but the American idols are even more popular. Our country was founded by Christians who were seeking freedom to worship God. We are one of the few countries in the world that offers complete religious freedom, yet our country seems less Christian every year. Why? I believe the answer lies in the American idols, and those listed above are just a few of them. They keep us from entering into the intimate relationship that God seeks. He wanted it so badly that in the beginning that He created man and woman and put them into paradise. Then, when they messed it up, God sent His only Son to redeem mankind, so we could once again enjoy right relationship. Now, we allow the American idols to get in our way. Isn’t it time we examine our lives and come back into alignment. Our world will be a much better place if we do.
Rod Nichols is an ordained minister and founder of For the Lord Ministries (www.4theLord.com). He is also a published author, accomplished public speaker, and teacher. He is the author of four books, including Walking with God and God's Prosperity Plan (available at www.RodNichols.com in the Store). He is also a contributor to A Cup of Comfort for Christians, Men of Integrity and Sisters in the Lord Magazines. Rod is married with five children. He and his wife Karen live in beautiful Washington State, but travel extensively. For more of Rod’s articles and stories visit www.RodNichols.com.
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Thank you pastor Rod, this is so powerful.It is time that we turned back to God and stop worshipping idols.
God is a jealousy God.Nevertheless, if anyone should boast, let him boast that he knows the Lord.
Thank you pastor for this message, the people needed to hear this.
Love sent, Justus