Does God only lead or seem apparent in our good days? When things are going swell? We may be more apt to notice or to be thankful for Him in those times, but we cannot and should not neglect to watch for His Hand in the darkness, too. For, “He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people” (Exodus 13:22). Do we replace Him in our hearts, minds, and lives if we grow weary of walking by faith in the darkness? Think of how easily the Israelites strayed, and they had seen the Lord’s presence with their own eyes—more than most of us have!
I’ve read about an abandoned church building in England that I’ll call Thameside where the congregation dwindled to the point that the church decided to close. This sanctuary of worship to God became neglected real estate put up on the market for anyone to buy. The flock that once filled its sanctuary as the Body of Christ instead flocked to sanctuaries of fleshly desires. Abandoning the Church of God for idols, they left their building to be used for the world’s purposes.
In our culture, it can be easy to assume we are no longer tempted by idols. Since we don’t encounter golden idols set up in shrines on a regular basis, this must have been a stumbling block for the ancients alone, right? I thought this myself until I was in high school when all of a sudden God opened my eyes to see all the idols I had set up in my own life. I was shocked to discover that while I wasn’t physically bowing down to a graven image, I had areas of my life that I was in a sense “worshiping.”
Most of us have grown up in an increasingly secular culture. To be secular is to be worldly-minded, to focus on this present life. More and more spiritual things are being reduced to a material or physical aspect. There is a sinful attachment to worldly-mindedness, which usurps God’s authority to define us as His creatures living in His creation. He alone gives true meaning to our lives because He is the Author of His creation. One of our challenges as Christians is to allow Him to reveal to us what beliefs, values, meanings, and attitudes we must separate from to be more wholly His children. What are our secular idolatries?
We think of many things when we think of an idol. We think of statues made to be worshiped as gods. We think of things in our lives that perhaps we have too much affection for, or that we spend too much time on. We think of people that we hold in too high of a position in our lives, rather than God. But the surprising thing I had to learn in my own early walk with God was that my greatest idol, which had to go in order for God's Spirit to have His way in me, was my own religious, self-righteous flesh of “morbid introspection” – after all, the root of idolatry is “self.”