Idolatry is something that most of us don’t think we do.  I remember blogging about a sermon that Tim Keller preached on the subject.  Most people give themselves a pass because often they can’t tangibly identify what that idol would be.  We don’t worship, here in America, wood or stone statues.  We don’t worship the sun or the stars, or the forest (well some may).  Often times we do worship self and as a society can be quite narcissistic.  And that the late G.K. Chesterton would say would be most horrible of anything else we could worship.

Of all horrible religions the most horrible is the worship of the god within… That Jones shall worship the god within him turns out ultimately to mean that Jones shall worship Jones… Christianity came into the world firstly to assert with violence that a man had not only to look inwards, but to look outwards, to behold with astonishment and enthusiasm a divine company and a divine captain.

– G.K. Chesterton in Orthodoxy (pg. 115)

I think it is common to so put faith in our own ability, our own self-reliance, that we slip into this form of idolatry.  We can pull ourselves up with our own boot straps.  We would do well to remember the words of Jesus who said:

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing, (John 15:5, ESV).

Apart from Jesus we can do nothing.  He is the One in whom we live and move and have our being, (Acts 17:28).  He is the one who even sustains the very universe in which we tread, (Colossians 1:17).  And we also must realize when we place our faith in our own reason that it too is misplaced faith.

   "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
       neither are your ways my ways,"
       declares the LORD.

   "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
       so are my ways higher than your ways
       and my thoughts than your thoughts,” (Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV)

But yet in pride in our culture we believe that we know better.  We claim superior knowledge.  We have absolute confidence that we know best, but in reality we know very little.  The only thing we are is supremely arrogant when we should be absolutely humbled.  The only proper response when we find ourselves engaging in such a horrible religion is to repent.

7 comments
  1. There is a lot of disagreement about what ‘idolatry’ even is. It’s interesting to me that you say “worship of statues” isn’t practiced in the United States because you are a non-Catholic and, as a Catholic, I am accused of it by non-Catholics frequently. As a Catholic who is a Sarah Palin supporter, I’m amazed by all the tribute videos I see of Sarah Palin because I know that if I showed a similar video about St. Therese, it would most certainly be called idolatry by many of those who love those Palin tribute videos. So, if you wish to write about idolatry, it might be a good idea to define what idolatry is.

    Also, on a side note, G.K. Chesterton is quite famous for his Catholicism. 😉

    Blessings to you, my brother. Great post. Sorry to nitpick. For what it’s worth, I’m not picking on you but, rather, those many Christians out there (both Catholic and non-Catholic) who really do not get the truths you just wrote here………which, admittedly, I am sometimes guilty of myself.

    Thanks.
    .-= Lisa Graas´s last blog ..Bill Johnson, Candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, Speaks in Warren County =-.

    1. @Lisa Graas, The post I linked to with Tim Keller has a pretty good definition.

      “When you look to some created thing to give you what only God can give you that is idolatry. An idol is anything in your life that is so central to your life that you can’t have a meaningful life if you lose it.”

      When I meant statues I was referring to “idols” of antiquity made to represent the gods of ancient cultures.

      Now we could probably to some haggling over the interpretation of the 2nd commandment, but that wasn’t what I was referring to in the post. Regarding Sarah Palin, we’ve got to be careful that we don’t elevate her in a similar fashion that Barack Obama has been elevated, so there’s been some videos that have bothered me.

      Also I knew Chesterton was Catholic :).

  2. For most of my life I think that I idolized my brain. Then one day God spoke to me as I read Proverbs 3:5.. I began a journey of living from and trusting with God my heart. I still struggle to trust God with all of my heart.. I still occasionally worship this idol that sits on my shoulders.. I guess it just makes me feel so good to lean on my own understanding 🙂
    .-= Kansas Bob´s last blog ..Pensions up for Greedy Weasels =-.

  3. Any “being-ness” that is, considering “one-self” anything other that that which is made in God’s image, a SPIRIT…. anything but that is an artificial identity, and to so worship that would in effect be worshiping an “idol.” Whether an idol is made out of wood, or metal, or “meat,” as in the body, or whether it is made of one’s metal idea of what one is (self image), if it is not SPIRIT, it qualifies as an “idol.” You are not matter, nor energy, nor space, nor time, nor anything, but a SPIRIT. But even that is qualified, for you are a particular kind of SPIRIT. A spirit that is made in the image of the one who is Alfa and Omega: The One who causes and the One who is “effect.” Therefore you are made in the image of the One who Causes all. Therefore you may be self reliant, causative, etc. HE granted you the existence of being in His image. He grants you all and denies you nothing. Therefore to assume the status of an “ego” that you would admire would also be worshiping idols. But if you assume the status of the Cause in whose image you were made, you do not dwell in such things as the ego, you transcend that and move beyond it to your true identity, and have not need, desire or compulsion to worship the false “self.”

  4. Thanks, Shane.

    To your point, though, we Catholics have a term “abandonment” which is what we are all called to do which is the antidote (solely through the grace of Christ’s sacrifice, but certainly only when we cooperate) for evils that tempt us. I think you’ll agree with us on this or I wouldn’t mention it. I like it when we can agree on something. 🙂 Christians are called to abandon all to God — all must belong to God….be handed over to Him — both our joys and our sufferings. It’s all His, and all is for His holy purposes……and these purposes are always good……just…..merciful.

    This teaching is a great consolation to me as a person who must live with a lot of pain. I trust that, for whatever purpose, God is using it. I can never quantify it, but it’s not for me to quantify.

    Nothing happens by accident and nothing happens based completely on human will. For this reason, we can’t take credit for all good nor all ill that befalls us. Whatever we are faced with in life, we must abandon all to God. Few people ever reach the point of being able to do that with 100% consistency, but there is joy beyond imagining for those who do, sometimes even in this life……though rarely. We often hear of people who experience great joy on their deathbeds amid great suffering. That is the embrace of Jesus Christ.

    Blessings!
    .-= Lisa Graas´s last blog ..Bill Johnson, Candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, Speaks in Warren County =-.

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