By Barry Rager
Idolatry is dangerous. Often, I feel that we underestimate the effect idolatry has on our lives. However, theologian Martin Luther had some powerful insight on the subject of idolatry:
The Basis of All Sin
Luther wrote that idolatry is not one sin among many but the very basis of every sin. When I read this, I was taken aback, and I greatly questioned the doctrinal validity of this statement. But the more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that Luther could have been on to something.
What are some examples we can see of this in our lives?
Gossip - When we gossip about someone, the basis of that is an idolatry of our status. By placing our status in the highest regard in our lives, we make decisions based off of holding that as our treasure. Therefore, when we have opportunities to gossip and tear others down, we seize them because we want to elevate ourselves.
Isolation - When we disagree with someone, we have a tendency to isolate ourselves. We will seek to draw back from the individual—even from the community as a whole. Usually, this is because they have challenged a particular idol in our own lives. This could be a religious, philosophical, political, or even interpersonal idol. When it is challenged, we retreat. We isolate ourselves, sometimes so far as to have no one else around us. God created us for community with one another, not isolation. (Genesis 2:18).
While these are only two examples, I would challenge you to think through the sin in your life and examine to see if it flows from idolatry.
A New Treasure
If all sin flows from idolatry at its core, then we need to make sure that we place our affections and desires on something higher: Jesus (Colossians 3:1-3). We need to be people who see Jesus as a treasure.
In Matthew 13:44 Jesus tells a parable of the hidden treasure, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” If idolatry is a displaced affection of treasure, then the only solution to idolatry is to dwell on the one true treasure: Jesus.
How is idolatry impacting your life? How can you work to ensure Christ as the treasure of your life?