Is the Coronavirus Exposing Our Idols?

  • Bill Delvaux Contributing Writer
  • 2020 15 Apr
Is the Coronavirus Exposing Our Idols?

One of the bedrock truths I believe is that God is always at work.

During this pandemic outbreak, I can trace the outlines of His work as I listen into the hearts of others. Whether their response has been fear, anxiety, panic...or rest, peace, and trust...I know that God is still working in each of them in different ways.

One of those ways has to do with all the things we trust in besides God.

The Bible refers to these as idols.

The coronavirus seems to be a potent way in which God is exposing our idols. Let’s explore this by considering the following five points.

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  • Point #1: Defining an Idol

    Point #1: Defining an Idol

    What is an idol? It’s anything in the created order that we exchange for the Creator. Theologically, we call them disordered affections. Instead of loving God with all of our hearts first, we love created things first. Hence, our affections are out of order.

    Psychologically, we call them addictions.

    We become attached to things in such a way that our very existence feels dependent on them. We have to have them, and the thought of letting them go strikes fear in us.

    Biblically, we call them idols.

    Here is how the Apostle Paul describes them: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Romans 1:25). The tragedy is that the exchange is such a poor one.

    Imagine exchanging your beloved grand piano for a cheap toy one, or your grandfather’s antique desk for a plastic substitute. But the tragedy of the exchange doesn’t seem to counter the allure of idols.

    Photo Credit: ©Unsplash/Erik Mclean

  • Point #2: Why We Run to Idols

    Point #2: Why We Run to Idols

    Why the allure with idols? In our present fallen state, we tend to prefer things we can see and control over the One whom we cannot see or control.

    Further, idols offer immediate relief from whatever discomfort or pain we are facing. Although God does promise to heal and comfort us, the timeline for that is often not immediate.

    Finally, some idols hold such power over us because of the affirmation that comes with them. By contrast, idols such as alcohol and pornography carry social stigmas. But what about working long hours at the job? Or getting pumped at the gym? Addiction to work or exercise often bring initial praise from colleagues or friends.

    But that only makes those idols more seductive.

    As long as the idol keeps giving us some immediate relief or control, we will continue to run to it. And here is the real tragedy. We keep running to it long after we realize it is starting to ruin us. Our idols have become like oxygen. Without them, we can’t breathe. We have to have them.

    And this is where idols always take us.

    We run to them for control or relief. But it is a lie, as Paul stated. For when we run to them and away from God, we don’t gain control. We lose it. We don’t gain relief. We become enslaved. We are taken into a dark, nether world where our freedom to choose withers.

    We are now captives of our own making. The steel bonds around our wrists are ones we fashioned ourselves.

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  • Point #3: Coronavirus and Our Idols

    Point #3: Coronavirus and Our Idols

    To free us from our slavery to idols, God will sometimes bring us into a crisis where the idol we have trusted in fails us. In our present pandemic crisis, I believe this is one of the things that God is doing. He is exposing our idols.

    Think of the things that we may have trusted to bring us life instead of the living God.

    Think of how many of them have been pulled out from under us.

    The entire sports world has ground to a halt. Financial markets are increasingly turbulent. Modern medicine is struggling to handle the virus. Businesses are barely surviving or shut down. The whole entertainment world is non-functional. Vacation and travel are almost non-existent.

    Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these. But when they take the place of God, they become idols that ultimately cannot meet the needs of our destitute hearts.

    So in God’s severe mercy, He will allow them to fall away so that we can clearly see how false our trust has been. Remember, He wants to free us from our slavery.

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  • Point #4: Will We Respond by Trusting or Clinging?

    Point #4: Will We Respond by Trusting or Clinging?

    The coronavirus demands a response from us. In that sense, it is a wake-up call and an invitation.

    The wake-up call is to see our misplaced confidence in idols.

    And the invitation is to come and receive all that God longs to give us through Christ.

    We can respond by waking up to our personal idols, answering the invitation, and placing our trust in Him. Or we can respond by clinging tighter to our idols. The first choice will produce peace, love, and joy. The second will lead us into deeper anxiety, fear, and bondage.

    One of the saddest verses in the Bible comes from Isaiah. God graciously promises life to His people if only they would turn away from their misplaced confidence in other nations and trust in Him: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Sounds like a great promise? It is!

    But this is how God’s people responded to it: “but you would have none of it” ((Isaiah 30:15). The tragedy of their response comes clear in the disasters that now overtake them, despite God’s longing to be gracious to them (Isaiah 30:16-18).

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  • woman with arms out wide in praise

    Point #5: Considerations for Prayer

    What will your response be to this wake-up call and invitation from God?

    Here are some things to consider in prayer:

    Make a list of fears you are experiencing. Then ask the Lord is there is an idol underneath your fear.

    Be willing. What things have been taken away from you during this time? Would you consider any of them to be idols? Are you willing to let them go?

    Finally, ask God for the gift of experiencing His deep love for you. It is that love that will set you free from your idols.

    Remember that God is for you in all of this, not against you (Romans 8:31). He exposes our idols not to condemn us, but to free us into our true identity as beloved sons and daughters.

    Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Tom Merton

    Bill Delvaux is a graduate of Duke University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has been a church planter, a high school Bible teacher, and a running coach. Seven years ago, he pioneered Landmark Journey Ministries to help men find their guide, own their identity, and discover their quest through Christ. His latest book is Heroic: The Surprising Path to True Manhood. His greatest claim to fame is being married to Heidi for 34 years and having two amazing daughters. He and his wife currently reside in Franklin, TN. Bill can be reached at