If there’s one thing that marks the modern Western world, I’d have to say it’s the sheer volume and variety of our available idols. In ancient days all they had were a few golden calves and those were probably rather expensive.
Today we have the usual suspects, sex, drugs, alcohol, plus entertainment, hoarding, porn, the internet, the news, relationships, people, exercise, food, shopping, shoes, coffee…..
Lions and tigers, oh my…..
I jest a bit here, but really in my mind an idol is anything that comes between us and God, anything we reach for when we should really be reaching for Him. Some of those idols are neither good or bad, what makes them idols is the role they play in our lives, the value we assign them, the relationship we have with them.
I often joke about my coffee idolatry and that stems from living in a very secular area. Once during a funeral, absent the Lord, I was unable to do anything, unable to offer people what they really needed, powerless to do anything but say, “I’ll make coffee.” I love coffee, but as a substitute for the peace and comfort of the Lord, it is one sad and pathetic cup of boiled bean water.
I’ve been to many secular weddings too, where the Lord is also absent, and without the joy of the Lord, people just try to pour everything they can into that void, often a lot of alcohol tinged with fear, cynicism, and bitterness.
I believe God is quite understanding and merciful, He gets it when we reach for a latte and a blanket and curl up in a fetal position, when we really should be reaching for Him. Everybody probably reaches for creature comforts at some point when what we really need is the Lord. Conversely however, I think He’s also quite serious about the dangers of idols, about the need for us to look to Him above and beyond anything else.
Above and beyond anything else, and that can be a tricky one, because I must always remember to put Him before my husband, before my kid’s even. I’ve wrestled with that a few times, kid’s always comes first, right? That’s actually unhealthy for everybody.
As I’ve said, it’s very secular here, so it’s somewhat rare that in times of trouble someone will say, let’s all just stop what we’re doing and pray. When it does happen however, that is such a blessing, such a moment of transformation, it just changes everything.
Reach out for the Lord first, than reach for a cup of coffee. I know, first world problems for sure, but there is truth there.