Idolatry Today

G.Rahl quoteWe all serve, honor, live for something, whether it’s God or a god. People did it 4,000 years ago and we’re still doing it today.

Through the years, my definition of idolatry was limited and uniformed. As a little girl in Sunday School, I breathed a big sigh of relief. “Good thing we don’t do that wooden idol-thing today.” As a teen, I knew I was exempt from any concern over Commandment #1. Idolatry meant a hunger for money, prestige or sex. Again, another big relief.

God is a gentle, determined teacher.

I now know that idolatry is the #1 sin in my life. Some things never change. There are few modern man-made stone images set up in homes in my corner of the world, but there are plenty of modern man-made beliefs and priorities that are set up in unsuspecting hearts.

Our modern day idols separate us just as much if not more, than any ancient image. Exploring idolatry today requires a personal inventory. Upon inspection, the top idols in my life bounce between “me, myself and I” (a trio of dangerous proportion) and my use of time.

Many dedicated church-goers have come to idolize time. In an era of endless opportunity and monumental demands, time becomes extremely precious and how we choose to use it, one of our biggest idols.

Gordon Rahl captures our use of time and the challenges we encounter because of it in three succinct statements:

We worship our work. We work at our play. We play at our worship.

Of which ones are you guilty?

Idolatry and faith are kissing cousins. They both require a throne. Both ask for our energy and our allegiance. They desire it and require it. Both ask for sacrifice—sacrifice of time, talent and treasure.

Idolatry speaks to our deepest fears: worth, emptiness, boredom, value.

God speaks to our greatest need: love.

He speaks the language of love with arms extended and dancing eyes. He invites us to give Him our best. Before His throne we work, we play and we worship.


Before His throne do you work, play, worship? What has God been teaching you?


First time here?

Welcome! We’re a group that gathers around the theme, “There has to be a better way.” We’re finding it in the 4-word mission statement, “Run hard. Rest well.”

  • It’s a journey into the heart of God. It comes our way through an on-going exploration of four biblical rhythms that revive, replenish and restore: Sabbath Keeping, Sleep (and other simple stress-reducers), Stillness—personal retreat, and Solitude—personal retreat.
  • It’s an expedition that challenges us at every turn. It convicts us in deep, tender places. It alters our priorities and plans. It’s not for the faint of heart.
  • It’s adventure at its best – as we learn to run the race in a power not our own.

First time here?

8 thoughts on “Idolatry Today”

  1. “We worship our work. We work at our play. We play at our worship.” That is an excellent and sobering quote. Great post.

    • Cliff, It is a quote that grabbed me and whispered deep things within. For me, I must allow the message to seep and soak and not run off a heart that is too distracted to pause and ponder. Again. And again. Onward!

  2. Idolatry speaks to our deepest fears: worth, emptiness, boredom, value.
    God speaks to our greatest need: love.
    As I have grieved for my sister, I was told…lovingly….that I had established myself as an idol. In a sense “I” want to save her. “I” want to make a difference in people’s lives. “I” want to… the hero. God, forgive me. It’s often that way with people who were abused. We have trouble coming out of that place of being devalued for so long. But God gets to be God. I don’t. We want to save and fix and help and make a difference…..I do. But God set the Earth in it’s orbit and it has not crumbled or crashed. Stars have…not earth, because God has us in the palm of His hand. He is caring for us and leading us and loves us. Each year of my life I grow. God leads me through a place in my life He wants to change. He is teaching me….slowly….at a speed I can learn through. I won’t accept condemnation, but I accept his gentle conviction that I didn’t learn the whole lesson the first time. I have much yet to learn. God is God and I am not.

    • Ah the “I wants”, they torment me too. Isn’t it great to know that as our body shrinks and shrivels over time, we are growing ever so big in the palm of his hand. It is true, I want to help. I want to do. I, I, I….and sometimes I forgot I am not the hero, I am only a tool. Betty have a blessed week! His words through you are a blessing!

  3. Good evening Brenda, Just read your August 27th message, which came as a wonderful reminder to run hard and rest well. The Lord has given you a real gift with words and how to apply God’s message to our daily needs. Thank you. I feel very blessed to be on your mailing list. With much love and prayers, Traude PS We met at the Katie Retreat a couple of years ago when you spoke to us on your trade-mark topic. It made a big impression on me.

    • Traude,
      I remember you!…and my time at the Katie Retreat. These getaways bless me richly. The race is before us. Let us cheer each other on to Rest Well, so that our Race is empowered by the One and Only! with love, Brenda

  4. Thank you for this timely, for me, topic. I am doing a sermon on God, the giver of Labor for this holiday. (Part of my August series of God the Giver…of Every Little thing, of Life, of Love, of Liberty, and finally of Labor.) This series was inspired by a book called “Thanking and Blessing” by Jay Marshall, Dean of Earlham School of Religion. Yes, we can make our work into an idol. I love the image you give of God with dancing eyes. Thank you, Brenda! Kathy Luethje

  5. Answers, oh those answers we seek. Yes sometimes we need a solid “yes” or “no”, but other times we are digging for answers that need no response. Sometimes we seek knowledge in order to prove we are a knowledgeable people, that we may hold some bit of something that someone else does not hold. Some believe we must teach when really we will always be the student. And I find myself asking what is that I really need to know? The answer is only one thing. God loves me. And because of that I exist with everything else around me. Sometimes I find I am seeking knowledge that leads me to the wrong answers. It is joyous to know even with all of that God whispers in my ear, “Erin I love you”.


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