Exodus 20:1-10 ESV
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…
Recently, I broke the screen of my smartphone. I was soaking up some of the last summer rays at the river when I took my phone out to take a picture (always a bad idea, I know) and BAM! Just like that, it fell, hit a rock and the screen shattered. It even landed in a shallow pool of river water.
And it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
My phone had too strong of a hold on my life. I was not addicted to my phone; I did not check my e-mail or Facebook every two minutes, or spend a dinner with my husband with my eyes glued to the screen. But my phone did have an influence on me. It was almost always by my side. If I accidentally left it at home, I would feel a little bit uneasy and incomplete. But not anymore.
The phone still works, but it doesn’t look pretty. There are now tiny cracks the sprawl across the bottom left corner like a spiderweb. But I believe this is a good thing. It reminds me that my smartphone is a material object. It was not made by God. It is just plastic and metal, with a computer chip inside that can hold photos and music. When I look at it, I can now see its imperfection. The cracks serve as a visual reminder that my phone is a flawed object, and I should be putting my focus on other things.
My phone was a distraction from God and God’s plans for me. It was an idol. No, I did not bow down to my phone in worship like the people bowed down to Baal. I did not physically worship my phone, but perhaps I did mentally by putting it above other things. I am guilty of spending far too much time surfing the web on the phone, time that I could have used in God’s word or in service to the Lord.
Modern-day idol worship looks different than it did in Bible times. Instead of kings forcing citizens to bow down and worship idols or face death, Christians face other idols. In addition to smartphones, Christians today can be distracted with work, relationships, hobbies, TV, work, money, pornography, drugs, alcohol and a myriad of other things. Some of these are good and some of these are obviously bad, but every one of these things can evolve into a toxic idol. God is telling us to recognize the idols in our lives and push them out! He is the only God and said, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Intersecting Faith and Life: What are the idols that have been placed in your path? Recognize them, and find a way to put them under God on your list of priorities, never above. If your personal idol also happens to be a sin such as lust, greed or envy, reach out to a pastor or counselor for help. God knows when you are truly trying to obey him, but you must push forth with your strongest effort to defeat Satan’s idols.