We Americans are much too sophisticated for that!
The problem is that there are subtle idols in our lives that keep us from understanding God correctly and more intimately. Some may grow up in poverty and say within themselves, "I refuse to be poor like my parents were."
They may not be aware that they have just created an idol in their hearts and minds!
There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to rise up out of poverty or to take responsibility to provide for yourself or your family. But when that desire conflicts with God's will or plans for our lives, it instantly becomes an idol that must be dealt with.
Jesus told the rich young ruler,
21...“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
Matthew 19:21 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
Jesus did not tell everyone to sell all that they have. However He knew that there was an idol in the heart of this young man that stood between him and God!
The man's response to Jesus was revealing:
22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
Matthew 19:22 The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.
If we bowed to a statue and worshipped it, it would probably be obvious that it was an idol but the idols born from the unhealthy condition of our hearts is often hidden from us!
What idol might be in your heart today?
Perhaps a boyfriend or girlfriend? A job? Some possession or possessions?
What non-negotiable positions have you taken, either consciously or unconsciously, that are actually idols hiding deep within your heart?
"I refuse to be alone."
"I will never live there."
"I will never associate with those people."
"I'm not driving some piece of junk car."
"I never buy anything from that store."
" I must have the very best."
"I'll never give up control in that area."
The list could be almost endless! In other words, almost anything in our lives can become an idol if we let it. It is not a matter of whether or not it is OK for "Christians" to do or not something. It is a matter of whether God approves of us as individuals doing or not doing something!
Legalism creates a set of rules that apply to everyone. But God is a very personal God and may require something from us that He does not require from others, as he did with the rich young ruler!
The idol of wealth kept the rich young ruler from eternal life, unless of course He later repented. Some idols in our hearts can actually have that extreme of a consequence!
Other idols may not keep us completely from God but may hinder our walk with God!
God wants to teach us to fly! Some may say no to God and never leave the ground. Others may allow God reluctantly to lift them off the ground but have a limit to how far out they will fly. The higher we allow God to take us, the more we will experience all that He has planned for us.
Moses asked to see God's glory and saw His backside. Paul allowed God to take him to "the third heaven."
God may limit how much He shows us and how far out we are allowed to fly but we should not limit Him by creating idols or drawing lines and declaring that He is not allowed to cross. If we make such declarations, God will honor our choices!
I believe there are experiences with God which are far greater than any earthly experiences or possessions.
Owning a Mercedes, having our own skybox in the stadium where our favorite team plays or being the most powerful or richest person in the world can never compare to being in the Presence of the Living God and spending eternity with Him!
But as it is written:
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into
the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9 The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
You and I have probably not reached our outer limit but I pray that we will have the courage to allow God to take us there!