Dave Short

Chicago, Illinois

National director of Campus Alpha, part of the Alpha Course



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Letting Go of Idols

I am rarely tempted to whip out a chisel and hammer and start fashioning out a personal image of God, but I am at times tempted to fashion God into a nice suitable package that meets my needs.  Actress Sarah Gellar told Scotland's Daily Herald, "I consider myself a spiritual person.  I believe in an idea of God although it's my own personal ideal.  I find most religions interesting, and I've been to every kind of denomination: Catholic, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist.  I've taken bits from everything and customized it."

John 5:21 says, "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." Webster's Dictionary defines an idol as "the object of excessive attachment, admiration, or infatuation."  If we accept this definition for an idol, then we would probably admit that 'idolatry' is at the forefront of our culture today. While in Puerto Rico for a campus ministry conference, some students drove me around the island.  While traveling through San Juan we passed by a mega-mall that was jammed with traffic.  One of the students pointed the mall out to me and said, "Puerto Rico's largest church!"

In my work with young people over the years I have found one potential "object of excessive attachment, admiration or infatuation," that often draws them away from the Lord and that is a wrong human relationship.  Paul makes the point in 2 Corinthians 6:14 (MSG), "Don't become partners with those who reject God.  How can you make a partnership out of right and wrong?  That's not partnership; thats war."  Anything or anyone that draws you away from God, seeks to convince you that your pursuit of God is over-the-tiop or has cooled your pursuit of God's best, has by definition become an idol.  

Morevover, an idol is anything or anyone that...

  • you listen to over the voice of God
  • you value more than God Himself 
  • prevents you from obeying God
  • hinders your relationship with God
  • you choose over what God wants you to do or become. 

That might include a great cause, pleasure, family, possesions, independence, friends, image, career, etc.  I'll let the Holy Spirit fill in the blanks for you.  

Your quiet time would be a good place to bring these things before God and let Him begin to pinpoint idols that you have erected in your heart.  Has anything come to mind while reading this?  What action steps do you need to take in order to make the necessary adjustments? Do you have a friend that you can process these things with?  

"Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say." 1 Corinthians 10:14-15