In Christian doctrine, the central objective of our spiritual life is to seek and adhere to God’s will, a pursuit that is understood to bring us closer to the divine essence and align our lives with Christ’s teachings. However, when we deviate from this spiritual course, knowingly or unknowingly, we veer towards idolatry, which Christianity recognizes as a grave sin. This essay explores the premise that to whatever degree we are not seeking God’s will, we are committing idolatry.
At the heart of the Christian faith is a reverence for the sovereignty of God, the belief in a single, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent deity. The First Commandment clearly encapsulates this notion: “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). However, when we drift away from seeking God’s will, we inadvertently elevate other pursuits, desires, or entities to the position of utmost importance, thereby creating ‘gods’ that compete with the One True God. This is the essence of idolatry.
Yet, idolatry is not limited to bowing before graven images. In the modern context, idolatry often takes more subtle forms. Money, power, fame, possessions, relationships, ideologies, or even one’s self can become idols if they take precedence over our seeking of God’s will. The Apostle Paul underscores this in his letter to the Colossians: “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
Seeking God’s will, therefore, is not merely about compliance with religious instructions. It entails a continual inward journey of self-examination and transformation, discerning where our loyalties and desires truly lie. The Apostle Paul affirms this, saying, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). This discernment helps us to realize when we are at risk of idolatry and guides us back to seeking God’s will.
However, it’s important to acknowledge the inherent challenges of this spiritual journey. We are humans living in a fallen world, continually facing a myriad of distractions and temptations. Straying from God’s will is not uncommon, but it should not lead to despair. In these moments, it’s essential to remember the teachings of Christ, who exemplified the perfect pursuit of God’s will, and the grace of God, which is extended to us despite our shortcomings.
In conclusion, the extent to which we are not seeking God’s will correlates directly to the degree we are engaged in idolatry. This understanding serves as a clarion call to Christians to prioritize the pursuit of God’s will above all else, knowing that in this pursuit, we find the true purpose and meaning of our lives. While it is a challenging journey fraught with distractions, the grace of God offers us continual opportunities to realign ourselves with His divine will, mitigating the risk of idolatry. Through this spiritual journey, we grow closer to the essence of our faith and deepen our relationship with God.
Jerry McGlothlin is a freelance writer residing in North Carolina.