Can we, today's modern church, practice idolatry? Surely that is a practice that is impossible for us to be engaged in, right? That was only for people from back in ancient times, correct? Not so fast. Think about this; an idol is simply a physical representation of that thing which you hold most dear, that which you consider your god, i.e. your focus of worship.
Let me ask you this: where do you find peace? Some say on the lake, the farm, on the bike, sporting events etc. Maybe a book, shopping, music, food and the list goes on and on. None of those things are inherently evil. However, if this is where you are finding your solace and peace as a believer, you have a major problem. I thought we looked to Christ alone as our source of peace?
You may receive some joy from the aforementioned activities, which is perfectly fine. If you are seeking anything more from them then you are now practicing idolatry. Anything that you find more appealing than worship, prayer, study of the Word and serving God's people is an idol. Pay close attention to what I just said. I did not say that enjoying these things is idolatry. It is when we desire to worship these things, when they are more appealing to us than the Presence of the Lord, then we are engaged in idolatry. We reveal our love and affection through our time and attention given to something. Unfortunately, all too often, we give our time and attention to the wrong things. Entertainment, relaxation and social interaction is necessary. We just can't become consumed by it and make it our pursuit. We must seek Him. It is even possible to make church an idol. When we go to church simply to make ourselves feel good, or to bolster our public image, instead of to worship and learn more about the Lord then we are idolaters.
I understand that there are many reasons people have for their way of life. Maybe they are hurt from past experiences, so they don't want to go to church and worship the Lord. They can do that at home, on the water or out in the field. He's everywhere, right? Unfortunately, these are just simply excuses for idolatry. The reason doesn't change the action. Sin is sin, no matter the package it's wrapped in.
For many, the thought of being in the Presence of the Lord is so foreign because it is such a foreign concept to the church today. The church is too busy building new buildings, running sophisticated programs for the whole person/family unit, operating as a political action organization and "ministering to the community" instead of truly worshipping the Lord. All of this is to prove their blessing from God, their badge of being the group favored by the Lord. When the church uses worldly principles to grow, it is no longer seeking the Presence of the Lord but rather the presence of the world. Growth in numbers is no sign of blessing. Growth in our relationship with the Lord is. Churches are certainly not immune to pride, and as such they are also capable of idolatry.
When His Presence is substituted for "community" and "relationship" with one another, we are practicing idolatry. He is not pleased. Why? He knows you better than you know yourself, he fearfully and wonderfully made you to pursue Him, His Presence. Nothing or no one else can satisfy us. Nothing can soothe us. Nothing can take His place. Consider it like this: He doesn't want you to worship idols because He knows it will not benefit and bless you like He alone can. He is jealous over us because He doesn't want us injured and scarred. He loves us more than we can fathom. Where sin separates us from His Presence, the Blood of Christ invites us into repentance and regeneration, turning away from our idols and turning back to the only source of peace in this world: the Presence of the Lord alone.
It’s quite simple. If you are born again, truly trusting in Christ, you will desire His Presence. Many things from this world will attempt to lure you away from Him, but none will succeed because you are a new creation that desires a new way of life. If you find talking about the Lord, talking to the Lord boring and unfulfilling then I challenge you to consider your salvation. Make sure that you are a new creature. If we can spend hours in fruitless and vain idol worship (insert whatever idol fits), but can’t endure to seek the Lord, we have a problem. I can assure you that there is no thing in this world worthy of your affection other than your relationship with the Lord. Are you an idolater? What do you desire and what do you seek? Where your treasure is there will your heart be also. Where is your treasure today? If your desire is focused anywhere other than on being obedient to the Lord, then you are an idolater. Repent and be made free. Forsake your idols and serve the Lord only.