The Danger of “I”dols

Read: Exodus 20:3-4

One thing in the Bible that people are usually pretty familiar with are the 10 Commandments. They give guidance for our spiritual lives and a few of them are even reflected in the laws of the land. Do not steal, do not murder, etc.

But the first two commandments seem to be getting ignored more and more in today’s culture of narcissism. They say, “You shall have no other gods before me” and “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath, or in the waters below.”

When we think of idols today the first things that usually come to people’s minds are related to television shows, athletes, music stars, and movie stars. We seldom think of idols in the form of Baal or other idols we read about in the Bible.

In reality though, today’s idols are very similar to those of many years past. They are things, people, hobbies, and so on that take our focus off of God and put our focus elsewhere. In the case of narcissism (defined as an inordinate fascination with oneself; excessive self-love; vanity. Self-centeredness, smugness, egocentrism) it puts the focus squarely on ourselves.

In a recent “Breakpoint” commentary (http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/23183) John Stonestreet related this to many of the recent stories we are reading in the news. He brought to light a quote that the late Chuck Colson once made. He said, ” “The cure for narcissism, is stepping away from the mirror and looking at someone else — especially Him (Jesus) who is the true desire of us all.”

In this age of Facebook, Twitter, Vines, reversible camera’s on our phones, personal blogs, etc. we need to be careful that we are not making an idol of ourselves. Christ wants us to have self-confidence, but he wants us to find it in our relationship with God not ourselves.

There are some valuable uses for today’s technology and I personally find Facebook and Twitter to be very useful with keeping up with friends, family, and other events; but I hope that I would never find my worth through those things. My worth and your worth is truly found in God and through his Son Jesus Christ, not how many “likes” we got on yesterday’s post.

In the end, we truly will be most content and happy when we place our focus on God. As Mr. Stonestreet said in his blog, “Jesus Christ is not just the cure for narcissism. He’s the cure for all forms of sinful pride and selfishness, and every other sin.”

My prayer this week is that we would refuse to be drawn into the “me first” approach of the world and recommit ourselves to these first two commandments. In Matthew 22:34-39 when the experts in the law were trying to test Jesus and ask him which of the commandments were the greatest he said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And second…. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Make it personal: In the normal activities of your week try to notice the appearance of narcissism in your life and in others around you. If we become aware of this sinful attitude it will be easier to keep ourselves from falling into it.

Have a God focused week,
Glen Rhodes, Minister of Discipling and Community Life, Arthur Mennonite Church