I live in Pittsburgh, otherwise known as "Steeler Town." In 2009 Pittsburgh is also known as "City of Champions." Now I have NOTHING against either the Steelers or champions - be they Penguins with a big silver cup or whatever.
However, I do sometimes want to stand in a prominent place in the city center (perhaps that's Heinz Field), and talk about idols of the heart. I am astonished at the people in this city who plan their lives around a football team!
Tullian Tchividjian - pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, FL - writes, "Idolatry is centering our attention and affection on something, or someone, smaller than God. In fact, most idols are good things in our lives that we turn into ultimate things–things that take God’s place as we unconciously depend on them to give our lives meaning."
John Calvin once said, “Our hearts are idol making factories.”
The great preacher Charles Spurgeon prayed, "Lord Jesus, take from us now everything that would hinder the closest communion with God. Any wish or desire that might hamper us in prayer remove, we pray You. Any memory of either sorrow or care that might hinder the fixing of our affection wholly on our God, take it away now. What have we to do with idols anymore? You have seen and observed us. You know where the difficulty lies. Help us against it, and may we now come boldly, not in the holy place alone, but in the holiest of all, where we should not dare to come if our great Lord had not torn the veil, sprinkled the mercy seat with His own blood, and asked us to enter."
Here's the shocking truth for my heart: I have my idols, too! My idols aren't Steelers, but I too make idols in my heart. I too center my attention and affection on something or someone smaller than God. My idols are "good" things, too. The problem is that my sinner's heart turns them into ultimate things - things that take God's place. God alone gives meaning to life! Idols - as the ancient prophet Elijah proclaimed on Mt. Carmel - can't do anything, see anything or be anything! (1 Kings 18:16-39)
So, before I "preach" to others, I need to "preach" the Gospel to myself!