Anything that takes you away from God is idolatry
The people of Corinth came from a society of idol-worshippers. Sacrifices had to be made to the gods all the time. If you didn’t do it, they believed, the gods would get upset and you’ll be struck with bad luck. Therefore the new believers continued with these customs, even though they had started to believe in Jesus. Paul puts it to them clearly: 21And you can’t have it both ways, banqueting with the Master one day and slumming with demons the next.
We may think it doesn’t apply to us, because we don’t believe in idols anymore. We worship God and that’s it. Let’s get on. But we shouldn’t become too comfortable, because an idol is not necessarily that golden statuette I bought in the east or a wooden mask from deepest Africa. An idol is not necessarily that big car standing in the garage under a sheet to be taken out only on special occasions.
Maybe we should define an idol as follows: An idol is anything that comes between you and God. An idol is something that takes up God’s time in your life, or put differently, something stealing the time that you should be spending with God. Let me give you an example from my own life. There was a time in my life that I watched TV till late at night. As soon as I started watching a movie I simply couldn’t hit the off button. It could be the most stupid movie ever made, but I was simply too curious to see what would happen in the end to switch it off. When the movie eventually ended, I would be so upset with myself. The worst was that the next morning I couldn’t get up for my time with God. Then TV had turned into an idol. It stole my morning and time of refreshment with God.
Many things slip softly into our lives and make us pull away from God. If I walk into my office and leave God outside, my work is an idol. If I can’t take God to my friends, my friends become an idol. If I’m forced not to talk about God with my family, they’ve become my idols. Idol-worship has taken on another face today.
We can’t say on the one hand that we worship God, but at other times and places we allow something else to steal our time with God. God is jealous and does not permit this at all. Therefore, it is extremely important to discover our time thieves. Things that we’ve become so used to that we don’t even realise it has become and idol in our lives. No, we don’t have to classify every little thing as an idol. We don’t have to give away all our money and give the computers and TVs and tablets and cars to the poor. No, just make sure that it doesn’t come between you and God. Rather use it to strengthen your relationship with God and to make the time that you spend with God even more enjoyable and informative.
May God’s Spirit quietly show us what He doesn’t like and what it is that steals our time with Him. And may He help us to change it so that we can spend enough time with God again!
What is it that steals your time with God?
Has it become an idol?
What can you do to give this time back to God?
Father, I now realise that many things can steal our time with You. I must say in all honesty that I’m not aware of all the things that have become idols in my life. Please help me to recognise them and get rid of them. Amen