My eldest daughter Whitney and I are currently in Taiwan visiting some friends of ours who are here doing missions work. This is our very first time leaving the United States and so far it has been a totally awesome experience. It is really opening my eyes up to so much outside my own little world. It is truly amazing to experience and to learn about a different culture and to experience first hand how different people live in a different part of the world.
Taiwan is so very beautiful. It is similar to back home in California as in there are mountains and the ocean. But here, there are parts of the island that look almost like the jungle. The climate is absolutely wonderful (if you don’t mind extreme humidity). I was told the summer heat is scorching hot and humid, but being a native of Chicago I have had a bit of experience with humidity.
Visiting here makes me feel as if we have literally jumped back into the pages of the bible. What I mean by that is the open worship of man-made idols here is everywhere. It seems as if there is one temple here for approximately every city block and the majority of people here have their own little shrines within their homes.
When I think about it, the thing is there is really is no difference between idol worship here in Taiwan and idol worship back in America. The only true difference is that the idols here are more visible and blatant while in America, not as visible but still as prevalent. Woven throughout the bible, idol worship is a common theme in both old and new testaments.
The people here in Taiwan believe in many Gods and they even worship their dead ancestors and offer sacrifices to them. Yes, this may sound foreign and far-fetched but in reality we deal with the same issue of idol worship back in America. Their worship may be to a man-made statue of a God but the concept is still the same. A idol is basically anything else that we give our worship to other than the one true God which is Jesus Christ.
Idols come in many forms such as worship of cars, houses, money, sex, power, prestige, education, careers, people or even our own self-righteousness. An idol can be anything in our lives that we elevate above God. Most often times our idols can be pinpointed when we observe how we prioritize things and what we dedicate most of our time and attention to.
I often have to battle “idols” that crop up and want to take priority in my life above my relationship with God. A few of the big idols I have fought is the idol of loving my family more than I love God. Another one has been elevating people above God, by needing their affirmation or approval. There and so many more “things” that always seem to be trying to compete with God for my affection in life. When I allow any of them to come before my relationship with God, they become an idol and are acting as a functional God in my life.
Often times we see idols as bad things and sometimes they are. They can come in the forms of addictions in which we are trying to fill our “God void” with something other than him. But other times they are not necessarily bad things in and of themselves. They become bad when we make them the ultimate thing by giving them first place in our lives or we let them become the motivating factor behind our actions.
It says in Mark 12:30 that we are to. . . Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. That sure sounds like there is no wiggle room in that verse to give first place to anything or anyone besides God. And in Exodus 20:3 it says . . . You shall have no other God’s before me. God is a jealous God and he does not want to complete for our affection with anything or anyone.
I believe we start to gain victory in our fight against idols as we begin to recognize these idols that creep in and then confess and surrender them to God. It is only through the power of Christ that we can we be freed from these false Gods to serve the one true God. Then we are free to love him with our whole hearts and fulfill the second part of the great command to love others as ourselves. When we surrender the false, we give way to the one and only true God and this is how we begin to experience the fulfilling and abundant life that is found only in him, Jesus Christ.
Thank you father God for who you are, the only one and true God. Thank you for your great love for us and that you paid the ultimate price for our freedom. Help us to walk in that freedom by living a life that is pleasing to you. Help us to recognize and eliminate the idols that try to steal, kill and destroy from the abundant life we have in you. Thank you that you are an amazing God. Thank you for the victory we have in you. Yours is the kingdom, yours is the power, and to you be the Glory both now and forevermore. AMEN
Deuteronomy 5:6-7 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.”
Matthew 22: 37-39 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
John 10:10 The thief comes not, but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
John 8:36 . . . If the son sets you free, you shall be free indeed.