Confessions of a Closet Christian: How Can Good Things Become Idols?

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When I hear the word, “idol”, I think of the Israelites worshipping a golden calf in the desert while Moses was away on a mountain.

It’s hard to relate to a people bowing down before a hunk of metal in the shape of a bovine.  I’ve never once had the impulse to do this.

As a child, I thought I had the idol thing covered.  I mean, the second of the ten commandments says:  You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  And I thought, “Great!  So, don’t sign up for that metal crafting class and stay away from heifers.  Check.”     As a young adult, and a bit of a social media aficionado, I find myself easily distracted.  I spend a lot of time looking at friends-of-friends’ Facebook photos and reading Buzzfeed lists.  Don’t get me wrong.  Facebook is not a bad thing.  But, if Facebook were made an Olympic level sport, I’d take gold!  Just because I could outlast everyone.  My Facebook endurance is NOT to be reckoned with.

I know it sounds like I’m bragging.  Like I have a gold-plated Macbook at home that I troll Facebook with.  But it’s actually quite embarrassing to admit this.

I feel like I’m at “Facebook Anonymous”.

“Hi.  I’m Jana.  I’ve been using Facebook since…”

You see, Facebook is a time suck.  It wastes my time.  But even worse, it pulls my focus.  What I mean by that it, I post things on Facebook because I think people will like them.  And conveniently, Facebook has a built in “Like” button.  So I’m able to monitor the posts and see if anyone actually does like it by actively clicking on the “Like” button.  It’s sick how much a “Like” can mean in the Facebook world.

And if I’m honest, I compete with myself, and see if I can accumulate more likes on each progressive post.

(I know… I told you… It’s gross… I’m a total weirdo.)

But I’m not the only one.  I’ve had friends that told me that they gave up Facebook completely because they were essentially living their lives for it.  Doing different activities and recording events with photos solely so that they could post about it later, instead of enjoying the moment then and there.

I also have a huge tendency to please people via social media.  To get attention.  To be liked.  To gain approval.

If somebody likes my post, deep down in some twisted way, I feel as though they are saying that they like me.  They approve of me.

At least this time.  This trip through the newsfeed.

In this sense, every post is a request pending for man’s approval.

Will you like me?

Do you still like me?

And suddenly, something good – because Facebook is an exceptional relationship tool – becomes enslaving.

It becomes my own golden calf.

I think that it’s easy to forget that we don’t actually need man’s approval.  We don’t need the world to like us.  I mean Jesus was the Son of God, and not very many people liked Him.

If we believe what the Gospel says, we have God’s approval and we’re free of what the world says or thinks.

Galatians 1:10 says, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

Sometimes good things, done in excess and for the wrong reasons, turn to bad things. We each have our own idol whether it’s socially savvy or not.

Maybe it’s time to recognize it.

Maybe, in my case, I need to pause before I post.

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About Jefferson Drexler

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