I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that a person’s relationship status can easily become an idol. Individuals sacrifice time, money, and emotional well being to serve this ever hungry god, finding again and again that the idol can never truly be appeased. No matter how much you give, you will find this false god always demanding more.
Many Christians (myself included) thought they had broken out of this rat race upon reading passages like Matthew 6 or 1 Corinthians 7. In these texts, we are called to seek the Lord and to leave all worries to him. He, after all, is a good Father, a perfect provider. He knows what we need before we ask him, so he can surely take care of us. Many of us found hope upon reading these passages that God would indeed provide a significant other, but that he would do so in his time. Thus, we resigned ourselves to wait for his good timing. Many of us are still waiting, however, and we’re starting to worry again.
Idolatry is a tricky thing. When we read the word of God, we are met with a truth we cannot ignore. God is the point, the purpose, the prize. All other pursuits pale in comparison to him. If asked, I believe we as Christians would all agree with this point, even those in bitter longing for a spouse. The sad reality, however, is that we can know the truth without applying the truth. When we read passages about God providing for our needs, about him giving us the desires of our hearts, we can immediately affirm the truth of God’s sovereignty and love. We can recognize that our relationship status is ultimately under his control. In that moment, the idol appears to be broken before our eyes. But if we take a closer look, we may find that the idol has simply hidden itself behind the truth of God’s word. For, if we are honest, we must admit that the desires for earthly love and companionship never truly died away, nor did affections for Christ truly grow. Rather, the idol moved from a place directly before our eyes to a place behind a door called “God.” In other words, we stop chasing the idol apart from God and begin to chase the idol through God. Our Lord becomes simply a means to an end rather than the end itself. And in this way, the idol continues to enslave us, perhaps even more so than before. In this new position, we can be tricked into assuming that our pursuit is pure and holy, when all the while we are merely chasing the same false god.
Brothers and sisters, we need not be deceived. When Jesus called his followers to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” promising that God would provide for our needs, he was not giving us a sanctified way to seek the things of this earth; he was showing us that there are higher things to pursue. Paul too pointed this out when he wrote,
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Let us, then, pray for eyes to see the idols in our lives. Let us truly surrender all to God, seeking him regardless of whether or not we receive the blessings we see him give to others. And let us pray for love for God to grow, that we might truly desire him above all else. He is worthy. He is good.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols.
1 John 5:21