This means we will give our lives away to anything that promises to give our lives meaning. Our idols often hide in the shadows of what brings significance to our lives. Relationships and careers are prime idol candidates, precisely because many of us turn to them to discover meaning and purpose.
Disguised as good things like relationships and careers, our idols can escape discovery. When it comes to our spiritual health, we are often on the lookout for a sin or obvious obstacle to our relationship with God. In the process we miss the idols that use the good things of our lives as camouflage.
The good news is that it is possible to uncover the idols that have set up residence in our hearts. In order to be successful we need to know the clues that will reveal their unwelcome existence in our lives.
In a similar way, we may not realize how idolatrous our career has become to us, until we are faced with a situation in which telling the truth or acting with integrity would mean a serious blow to our professional advancement. If we are not willing to hurt our career in order to do God’s will, our job will become a counterfeit god.
Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, p. 14
What brings these idols out of hiding is when they are threatened in some way. It could be when we have to have a difficult conversation that could lead to our relationship ending. It could be when a cherished political idea is challenged. It could be when our business ethics and Christian morality collide. Idols do not like to be challenged. They want to steal your worship, and the best way for them to do that is to remain hidden in the good things of our lives.
Our idols want to remain in power, and so they will use fear to prevent us from doing anything that might bring an end to our worship. Yet, when we know what to look for, that same fear can help us uncover them. Fear prevents us from challenging the idols power, but it can also be used to identify the idols that control our lives.
The feelings fear, accusation, intimidation, or oppression should cause us to stop and evaluate what is going on in our hearts. It is essential that we determine the source of those feelings. It could be that we have a wound that needs healing, but it could also be that we have an idol whose power is threatened. Discovering our idols is the first step in removing them from our lives.