A false idol could be anything that has the ability to have power or control over you. How do you identify them? And how do you take the power back?
The Advent of Smart Phones
How in the world did we do anything before smart phones?!
It’s the most bizarre thing. I’ve only had an iPhone for about 15 years, but I somehow can’t remember what life was like or what I did before I started carrying this darned thing around. Even then, smart phones were nowhere near as advanced as they are now. So it wasn’t like “the things I used to do” disappeared overnight. The transition took some time.
So why can’t I remember what it was like?
For instance, how did we know how to get somewhere? Sure, maybe GPS – if you had it – but most of the time it was with your old style paper maps and, later, Google Maps and Mapquest. In fact I still remember referencing those when I moved to Nashville in 2006. But they were useless if you didn’t know where you were to begin with.
And they definitely didn’t tell you how the traffic was. Or the best way to re-route.
What about going out to meet people? How did we know where they were? I mean, yeah, you could talk with your mom on the regular old phone and find out where she was going to be. But then whoever got to that spot first would have to wait right there for the other person. Sometimes that could be up to an hour!
And it’s not like we had Angry Birds to pass the time!
What if you got the meeting point wrong, or one of you was lost or way behind? How would you ever know?
How did anyone ever find anyone?!
Before smart phones you could still text your friends, but you couldn’t visit your favorite websites. Before smart phones you could still take your music with you but couldn’t watch videos or stream television. Before smart phones you could still make phone calls from wherever you were, but you couldn’t jump on social media to post an impromptu selfie from your vacation.
Before smart phones I didn’t feel compelled to look every single time the thing barked at me. I didn’t stop everything I was doing just because I had to see what was on the other side of that lock screen. I didn’t run to the other room or – God forbid – check my notifications while I was driving just because I got that random beep or ding or jingle.
Every time that thing makes a noise I hop to. Almost as if by instinct. Like I’m not even thinking about it.
It’s to the point where I have to ask… Am I really even using my smart phone?
Or is my smart phone using me?
The Things That Control You
Lately I’ve been talking about the things in our lives that have a tendency to control us. Up to this point I’ve been focusing on things that would appear to be a little more abstract – like fear. Fear – in one form or another – is something all human beings struggle with. It’s fear that holds you back and keeps you from realizing your potential. It can dictate your actions and emotions without you ever realizing that’s what’s going on.
But not everything that has the potential to control you is going to appear sinister, like fear. There are plenty of other things in your life that have this capability, but seem rather benign – at least on the surface.
What about your career or your work? How much have your goals, aspirations or even responsibilities controlled your behavior?
What about the weather? Haven’t you ever gotten up in the morning, saw that it was the drizzling shits, and decided to tank your whole day because of it?
What about television or video games? When have those kept you glued to your recliner, couch or game desk?
Or, of course, what about your smart phone? It dings. You look.
The Bible talks about idolatry and idol worship a lot. Traditionally, we think these “idols” to be false gods or a form of devil worship. Or perhaps we see it as the kind of stuff that Satan likely has a hand in, like materialism, money and greed.
But I think false idols can be found in just about anything, anywhere.
If it can control you, or have power over you, or dictate your thoughts, feelings and actions… if it has the capability to keep you from reaching your full potential – in particular, the potential that God expects from you because He specifically created you for that purpose – then we may be talking about idolatry.
And, yes, that could make your iPhone or your Android a false idol too.
Idolatry is an issue whenever anything in your life takes priority over God. When that happens, you lose focus. Thoughts get scattered. Your faith gets rattled. Your connection to God gets rather fuzzy.
And you start to walk off the path of promise and potential. The one God paved for you.
It’s All In The Lips
If a false idol could be anything, anywhere… well that sounds pretty dark and hopeless, doesn’t it? What are you supposed to do with that? How are you supposed to fight it?
And what about those things that we use as tools, like an iPhone or a computer? How can we use those if they have the potential to control us in this way?
The first thing you need to know is that none of these things – not one – can control you of its own volition. None of them has that ability. None of them has that kind of inherent power.
Sure, they all have the potential to have this kind of power over you. But at the end of the day, that potential comes directly from you.
Because it’s all about permission.
None of these “false idols” – whether it be fear, exercise, TV, politicians, money, smart phones – have any power over you whatsoever unless you give it permission to. And that kind of makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, letting God in is as simple as giving Him permission too! (Gosh! It’s almost as if He set it up that way).
So don’t be super surprised if you find you need His assistance.
As for the tools you use, including your iPhone… It really comes down to a simple question: Are you controlling it, or is it controlling you? If you stop everything you’re doing to see why your phone is dinging at you nearly every time it does it, then I think you know the answer.
And if you pay close attention, you’ll find the answer nearly everywhere you look. Yes, it really is everywhere. And, yes, it may seem incredibly intimidating… but that’s only if you let it.
Don’t let it. You’ve always had the capability to take that power back.
All it takes is your say-so.
What’s The Word?
The Bible is pretty adamant about the power of words. This can be seen in the ability God has to create things just by speaking them. Or in the concept of The Gospel (“The Good News”). Or even in implied ways, such as with Proverbs, the Psalms, or Paul’s Epistles. The words in these books have a certain kind of power. They can change you and transform the world around you.
This is purposeful – it’s God’s hint to us that our words have power too. That even we simple humans have the ability to make things happen just by speaking.
Or writing. I mean… why do you think I do this stuff?
There are certainly things that happen in the world – or in your life – that you can’t control. It’s funny to me that those are the things we seem to stress most about. I definitely do that myself.
But there are also things in your life that you can control – things that, right now, are controlling you. These are the “false idols” that have taken hold in your life.
Once you identify what those “false idols” are, and start taking back the permission you’ve given to them to control you, you’ll be far less stressed and feel more empowered in your day to day activities and interactions.
And you’ll be surprised at how light and free you feel.
Can you identify some of the “false idols” that have taken control of your life? How have you been giving them permission to have power over you? How has that control affected your behavior, your emotions, your stress and your interactions with other people? If you took back that permission, how do you think these things would change? What would your life look like? Have you already dealt with this in the past? What happened when you took the permission back? Share your thoughts and experiences below!
You can also share your story and chat with the Ender Bowen Community on Discord by Clicking Here.