Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. 1 John 5:21
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 1 Cor. 10:14
Dear heavenly Father, in Rome, I’ve seen numberless remains of various gods that filled the temples and lifestyle of that great ancient city. In London, I visited the biggest Hindu temple in the city and wandered from station to station as worshipers offered prayers and gifts to deities that looked quite odd to me. In Israel, I saw decaying ruins of various idols which competed for the worship of the people of God. Idolatry is everywhere because there’s no such thing as a non-worshiper.
Yet for me to obey these commands, to flee and keep myself from idols, requires much more than simply staying away from ancient sites, pagan temples, and man-made idols. Father, I’ve never been more aware of the invisible pantheon of idols that constantly reach and angle for my heart’s affection, trust and preoccupation. How I wish that as soon as you placed me in Christ my struggle with idolatry would’ve “left the house”; but that’s simply not the case, or these Scriptures would be entirely irrelevant.
Sometimes the approval or rejection of people has more sway over my heart than what you think of me. Sometimes my “need” to be right in a conflict influences me more than my being righteous in Christ. Sometimes my desire to control of people and circumstances claims much more of my energy than seeking your face, savoring your grace, and serving your Son. Sometimes a commitment to a pain-free heart preoccupies me more than a commitment to your ever-advancing kingdom. These are just a few of the things which bear the marks of idolatry in my heart.
Have mercy on me, Father, and free my foolish heart from giving anything or anyone the attention, allegiance, affection, and adoration you alone deserve. The fact that I’m “beloved, one of your “dear children”—forgiven, secure, righteous, and beloved in Christ—should be all the motivation I need to keep myself from any form of idolatry. May the gospel of your grace relentlessly expose and dethrone all “empty nothings” from my heart. May the beauty and bounty of Jesus so fill my heart there’s little room leftover for anything else. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ most worthy and loving name.