Societal…idols? What even are those?

Our church celebrated its second birthday the other week (yay!) with a picnic party. Over pulled pork and potato chips, one of my new friends and I struck up a conversation. He moved his wife and kids out here from Kentucky, and as we chatted about biking, Amazon’s takeover of Seattle, and the (inevitable?) socioeconomic crash it may be bringing, we also touched on societal idols. You know, those things people in a given geographical area all give a lot of air time to. Out there, he told me, they’re largely religious.

Track with me here: yes, religion can be an idol. Well-meaning people can say they love God, without really knowing who He is, or caring about what He cares about. Terrible things — large and small — have been done in the name of religion. (I am not against organized religion, but that’s another post…)
Out here in Seattle, we decided, our idols are more obviously secular. Healthy eating. Taking care of the environment. Equal rights for everyone — regardless of ‘sexual orientation’ or race, or gender, or anything that differentiates us.
Now here’s the tricky thing about idols. They are all *good things*. Good things, ok? Eating healthy is important! We should definitely take care of our planet! All people are made in the image of God and we all sin, so there, we’re all in the same boat. I don’t have any intrinsic right to proclaim myself better than you, or to treat people like me, better than I treat people like you.
The problem happens when these good things become the most, the best thing to us. We are built to worship (which I’m using here to mean “regarding as sacred”. A good litmus test is how hard you fight if somebody tries to take it away from you, or attack it).
My challenge to you is to think. Think about your own life, and the causes you champion most. Chances are, they are good and worthy. But if they squash others along the way to world conquest, or if you find yourself more passionate about it than about Jesus and what He says, please carefully reconsider your priorities. And, please be slow to look down on others who don’t share your convictions. Otherwise, we’re just all being judgey-pants, in our own different ways.
This is a link to an article written by Stacy Reaoch over at Desiring God. I highly recommend this for further reading. So many of these areas are so very, very emotionally charged, and we need wisdom.
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