In each Epistle, this column features a single question to which our pastors are asked to reply. It is usually connected to the issue’s theme and crafted to reveal the unique personalities and experiences of our beloved leaders.

What idol do you think is prevalent in America today?

Pastor June Barrow
Self-reliance can be an idol. It is a virtue we teach our children; it is a quality every adult needs to lead a responsible life. Yet, it can become an idol. Yes, we plan, but we also must trust. We control what we can about our finances, our relationships, our property, and our health. But we know that plans and expectations can overturn suddenly. Therefore, because we are believers, our firm foundation is based not on our self-reliance but on the utter reliability of God, who has secured for us great salvation through all that Christ did for us. Ultimately, we rely not on our finite selves but our mighty and loving Lord. We try, but we also trust.

Pastor Steven Grant
Self-centeredness and self-indulgence are rampant in our comparatively affluent culture. Individualism and consumerism seem to be of the highest priority. Not that one’s needs and feelings are not important; they are! But I have worked with people who are otherwise very blessed but hate their lives and are depressed because they do not believe they are getting their fair entitlement. By contrast, true peace comes when we realize our lives are not our own; our lives belong to Jesus. The worldly perspective drives people to a never-ending pursuit of self-satisfaction. Once we embrace ourselves as our sovereigns and commit to our self-gratification as the purpose of living, the peace, contentment, and sense of self-worth everyone seeks remain ever elusive. Christ is sufficient; Christ is our joy and our peace even in difficulty. His is the peace that passes all understanding!

Pastor Su Kim
A prevalent idol in America today is wealth: what we own ends up owning us. Jesus frequently taught about money and especially greed. One memorable parable tells of how a certain rich man was deemed a “fool” by God. And Jesus said, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21).

Pastor Doug Pratt
Please see “The New American Idol” on page 22.

Pastor Brad Rogers
Among the “selfie” generation, I wonder if the most prevalent modern idol is the self. The quest for self-actualization, the pursuit of self-worth, the concern for self-esteem, the importance of self-care, the popularity of self-help, the desire to be self-employed, the value of being self-made, the belief that discovery of identity lies within the self—all point to what takes up our time, energy, and headspace: ourselves. Certainly, there is a place for loving one’s self, but only through humble worship of God that leads to loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Pastor Allen Walworth
The idol of self-sufficiency is rampant in America, as it is across most of the “first-world” developed countries. Our currency says, “In God we trust,” but in truth, we are tempted to place our trust in ourselves—our wealth, our personal or national power, and our self-defense.

Another Perspective

It would seem to me that the most prevalent idol in America today is greed or avarice. And not just the greed for material wealth, but the insatiable and inordinate desire for more of every-thing. Some commentators on the Scripture have pointed out that Jesus talked more about greed than any other sin. Why? Because the idol of greed is insidious and not easily recognized. That is why in Luke 12:15 Jesus warns, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” We are a society that never has enough—never enough money, comfort, amusement, houses, cars, beauty, you name it. Ironically, greed often disguises itself as “getting ahead” and before you know it, it has entrapped you. But Jesus sets us free. This is why Paul said in his letter to the Philippian church that while he was in chains and in jail, he had learned to be content no matter what the circumstances. That is true freedom from greed.
– Dr. Al Barrow
Director, Spiritual Development Center