Summarising a recent post written by J.D. Greear:-
We tend to think of idolatry as something practiced long ago by primitive peoples. But idolatry is just as alive today as it always has been; it just wears different clothes.
A reading of Acts 19 prompts the following thoughts about idolatry, ancient and modern.
1. An idol is anything that promises you a life of security and joy apart from God. In Acts 19, Artemis is described as the ‘protector’ and prosperer’ of Ephesus. Idols are not necessarily evil in themself: they may equally be good things that have become ultimate. When we fix our desire on something, or someone, and think, ‘If only I have that, I shall be happy’, we have become idolatrous. What is that in your life: marriage? children? your career? your home?
2. Idols engage the deepest emotions in our hearts. As Acts 19 shows, when idols are challenged, people react violently. What is that in your life? About what do you think, ‘I couldn’t live without that’?
3. Idols need to be protected. In Acts 29, Demetrius was making a fortune out of Artemis-worship. he wasn’t about to have his livelihood undermined by Paul’s teaching. So he raises a rabble in order to protect his idol. Note the irony: something that was supposed protects them requires their protection. What is that in your life? What are you obsessive about protecting?
4. Idols demands sacrifices to keep them happy. The whole system in Ephesus was built on appeasing Artemis and keeping her happy. Idols will always make you sacrifice to them. But they will never be satisfied; they will never say, ‘that’s enough’. What is that in your life? What part of yourself have you sacrificed on the altar of an idol? What excuses are you making for doing so? When will you stop kidding yourself that you idol will ever be satisfied?
5. The gospel overcomes our idolatry. ‘The idol of money says to us, “If you don’t do enough to obtain me, I’ll make you miserable.” The idol of family says, “If you lose me, life won’t be worth living.” The idol of comfort says, again and again, “Sacrifice your honesty, your integrity, your closest relationships, for me.”’
‘Idols are harsh taskmasters. If you fail them, they make you pay. But in the gospel Jesus says to us, “You did fail me. But instead of destroying you, I’ll let myself be destroyed for you. Instead of demanding a sacrifice, I will become a sacrifice for you.” In Jesus, unlike idols, we find the only God that—when we obtain him—will satisfy us, and—when we fail him—will forgive us.’