Common Cultural Idols

No Ordinary Evening

Lying in bed on a Tuesday evening night after a long day, I felt led to pray the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

(The Shema is the centerpiece of the daily morning and evening prayer services and is considered by some the most essential prayer in all of Judaism. An affirmation of God’s singularity and kingship, its daily recitation is regarded by traditionally observant Jews as a biblical commandment – My Jewish Learning.)

As I reflected on the perpetual truths of these verses, I couldn’t help but continue reading down till I got to verse 13 which reads:

It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.  You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

Deutoronomy 6:13-15

This verse bounced off the page and conviction pierced my heart as the reminder of God’s jealousy towards His people came to my remembrance in full effect. I asked myself, what are the gods of the people around me that I have been tempted to serve yet must reject?

I frantically began writing down a list on my notes page. Here are many of them, but indeed the list can go on indefinitely:

Common Cultural Idols

  • health and fitness
  • material possessions
  • marriage and relationships
  • beauty
  • alcohol and drugs
  • food
  • education
  • work and career progression
  • technology
  • sport and leisure
  • social media
  • success, popularity, and self-image
  • people’s opinions

Many of these things are good, necessary things that ought to have a place in our lives, but how easy it is to take a good thing and turn it into a god. I couldn’t help but feel a sorrow in my heart that I had been guilty at one time or another for bowing down to many of these idols.

Idols Can’t Satisfy

Whilst many still bow down to statues, temples and man-made images, in the West many more of us bow down in our hearts to the ideologies and ideals that we are surrounded by.

To bow down to: to put something in place of God in terms of importance and devotion/to place a higher than necessary importance on something than that which is required of us by God.

The devastating thing about all of these potential idols is that they promise something to us that they can’t fulfil. Only God, our creator can fill our deepest desires, and when we dethrone God in favour of an idol our heart turns cold towards him and we go astray.

If you are thinking in your mind, “hey, this is me, i’ve been led astray and departed from a single-minded devotion to God” then you are certainly not alone, but it is time to to enthrone God as first above everything and anything, and you must be committed to wage war against anything that attempts to take His place.

Here are three Self Check Questions you can ask yourself to increase your awareness of cultural idols:

  1. What are the idols that are common to the culture I live in?
  2. Which of these have I bowed down to? and why?
  3. How can I guard my heart against these idols daily?

Take these things to God in prayer and walk as a child of light in the midst of a dark world and compromising culture.

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