My Top 3 Idols of 2022
Augustine famously wrote in his Confessions, “O Lord, my heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”
So, here are three things my heart tried to find rest in, other than God, in 2022. Three things, other than God, that I asked to answer the questions, “Who am I?” and “Am I worth anything?” (Spoiler alert: they let me down!) Perhaps you can relate?
1. Money. Jesus named this god, “Mammon,” and he’s the god of greed. Greed promises wealth, comfort, and security in an uncertain world. He promises to take away my fear, and to provide for my family. In return he only asks that I sacrifice my morals. To be fair he doesn’t ask anything too bad at first, just that I create a personal brand—a projected self image—that will get people to buy what I’m selling a bit more, or that I take a few extra side jobs on the weekends and neglect my family.
In exchange, he promises that I will get to own it all! But then he owns me. So what do I really get? Nothing. Money never serves me. I always end up serving it. Worldly security never secures me, it enslaves me.
2. Productivity. This god goes by many other names: excellence, performance, perfectionism, progress, growth, sometimes even piety and holiness. It’s all about getting things done, accomplishing stuff, and getting better. If I bow and worship it, sacrificing my time, my family, my rest, and all real relationships, it promises to reward me with the delights of success.
The trouble is that it never actually defines success. It just parades fuzzy images of a future where people love me and I am carefree. The reality is quite different. I end up chained to a dark cave wall, whipped by monster’s with names like “Not Enough Time” and “Not Enough Smarts”, mining treasures for someone else to enjoy.
3. You. Yes, dear reader, as embarrassing as it is to confess, I have worshiped your good opinion, your positive perception, your respect. Which is to say I have bowed before the altar of Pride, which is to say I’ve not really worshiped you, but myself. So, I’m sorry to say, the truth is that you are just a means to an end.
Now, Pride is a fickle god. The rituals involved in his worship are not what you are probably thinking. Rather than obsessing over how I’m better than others, I’m more often obsessing about how I’m worse; and about how I need to work harder to get you to think better of me.
This “negative pride” is easy to understand. All false gods are pathetically self-absorbed. They don’t really care what you think about them as long as you are thinking about them. And Pride is really just me, and I have discovered that it is much easier to obsess over my faults and sins than over my better qualities. (so I’m not just prideful, I’m also lazy! Sheesh!)
But let’s get off this train shall we? Analysis has limited value here. None of the false gods really care if I worship them. They’re perfectly happy if I study them, or analyze them, or even defend against them. Remember? They just want me thinking about them!
So, the secret to leaving behind idol worship is to not stick the dadgum idol under my saddle where it can poke and prod me all the livelong day. Pay it no attention. Observe none of its rituals. Listen to none of its promises.
But how do I not do something? By doing something else. And there you have it. One of the main reasons for prayer. If my attention must be absorbed with something (and it must!) then let me train it to fix on Jesus. Let me pay attention to his presence and action in my life. Let me observe his character of love and compassion. Let me listen to his voice and promise to me.
Say it with me: “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, thank you for having mercy on me.” Now, say it again, this time with some gusto. And then again, this time with some heart. And now you're starting to get the hang of it.