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When was the last time you thought about idols or idolatry? Frankly it’s not something I think about often. Idols and idolatry are relics from another time, place or culture, or are they?

Our trip to Japan this past May brought idols back into focus. They are visible in homes, at national shrines and street corners.

Street Corner Idol -- Nagakute, Japan -- David Kitz

Street Corner Idol — Nagakute, Japan — David Kitz

The Old Testament prophets would frequently rail against the idolatry of the people of Israel. Though God was faithful, His people were not faithful. They were guilty of worshiping idols of silver and gold. It’s quite easy to make a link with our modern pursuit of prosperity. Has that become our god? Perhaps we need a biblical reminder. The Ten Commandments begin with this injunction: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

What do we worship? What occupies first place in our lives? Where do our thoughts naturally turn? Do they turn to the LORD, or our favorite sports team—to Jesus or today’s hottest celebrity? Jesus commanded us to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness (Matthew 6:33). Is that your first pursuit? Are we faithful to him?

Actually, I think we are skirting the real issue. The real idol—the preeminent idol in today’s western world—is the idol of self. All too often I put myself, my comfort and well-being ahead of everything else, and that includes Jesus and his kingdom. What I want comes first. What God wants will just have to jockey for attention along with all the other demands upon my life. If I’m brutally honest, most often, that’s how I run my life. How about you?

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan -- David Kitz

Great Buddha, Kamakura, Japan — David Kitz

Do we have a problem with idolatry? Absolutely! And we are too deceived to recognize it. The god we bow down to is the god of self and our self-will, rather than our Creator and Redeemer.

Response: LORD God, forgive me for my putting myself, my interests, my comforts and pleasures ahead of you. Help me tear down my idol to self. I want to be faithful—fully faithful to you. Amen.