October 12, 1990
Fans easily make idols of movie stars and sports personalities; they meet an inner desire for heroes, they seem so perfect. Of course, holding them in reverence lasts about as long as they stay in the spotlight. Should a hockey player stop scoring goals, even for a game or two, or should a star fail to shine, fans begin booing instead of cheering.
Other things can be treated like idols also, particularly if they seem to meet genuine needs. Some people-groups honor images of supposed gods with the assumption these influence their prosperity. North Americans, while more sophisticated, tend to put whatever gives a sense of security and well-being into idol-status too, whether it be jobs, houses, cars, or friends.
Sometimes people even idolize institutions and their leaders. For instance, those who went through the Great Depression of the 1930's saw political and social organizations rise to stardom. Through them, economic prosperity was restored, then improved. During boom years, people began to trust governments and business to take care of meeting their needs.
It is becoming increasingly apparent these stars are falling. Business, political and social institutions (including all their programs and the people who lead them) are no longer able to keep us in the comfort which we have enjoyed. Instead we suffer cut-backs, high taxes, unemployment, and lowered lifestyles. As a result, people are disillusioned and angry with government and big business in general, political leaders and their own employers in particular.
Perhaps we need to look again at the first of God’s most well-known commandments. It deals with idols by saying, “You shall have no other gods before ME” (Exodus 20).
God knows all about our tendency to rely overmuch on (and even worship) the visible things that seem to be the sources of health, wealth, sustenance, and comfort. However, the Bible says God controls our well-being and He is the ultimate source of all that is good: “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Our perception of good is being shaken. Our world is rapidly changing, shifting like shadows, and the shadows are frightening. We want things the same, even work hard to maintain (or restore) our situation. We fear anything that will rob us of the good we have enjoyed in the past.
Some politicians take advantage of those shadows. They promise to restore the good life. But can they? Is our disillusionment with those “idols” well-founded? According to the Bible, there will always be downturns, belt-tightening, and even global economic instability that fosters mistrust in leaders and their performance. Maybe it is time to take another look at who we ought trust to meet our needs.
The first Commandment is God’s way of telling us to watch out for idols, watch out for thinking anything else is better able than He is, watch out what we revere and trust to meet our needs. He alone is worthy of that veneration. Besides, He knows if we trust in something less than Him we will get hurt. The Apostle Paul says, “My God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” None of our idols can make or keep a promise like that.