Self Image Reformation Part 4: Ideals and Idols

Image by Drigo Diniz at Pexels
An ideal is anything, such as a person or idea, that represents that which is suitable or perfect. The ideals we hold vary depending on what is most important to us. The severity of attachment to our ideals can also vary from harmless to deadly.

There are many ideals. Here are a few:

  • There are ideals that encompass the perfection of some hobby or interest, such as an ideal sports team or artist.
  • There are lifestyle ideals that encompass the perfect career, social status, or family life.
  • There are personal ideals of a physical nature such as race or an idea of what is physically attractive.
  • There are personal ideals of an inward nature such as personality or morality.
  • There are ideals pertaining the world around us including politics and economics.

What ideals do we carry, and how harmful are they?

Once we have honestly evaluated the things we identify with, we can consider what that says about our ideals.

For example, if we strongly identify with our race, does race become an ideal that we look to? Do we consider what it means to be of that specific race then do our best to embody that image? Do we begin to destroy anything that seems to oppose our ideal, either within ourselves or others?

Herein lies one of the biggest problems with ideals: we will destroy anything that stands in the way of our ideal—especially if our sense of self is strongly attached to that ideal. We might even lay our own life down in protection of an ideal.

The possibility for destruction obviously depends on the nature of the ideal and our attachment to it. There is also a spectrum of destruction, ranging from personal attack through name calling, slander, and false accusations to murder of an individual or mass genocide.

Many are killed for the ideal of race. Many are killed for the ideal of gender. Many are killed for the ideal of female body rights. Many are killed for the ideal of sexual orientation. Many are killed for the ideal of social equity of outcome. Many are killed for the ideals of politics and economics. Many are killed for the ideals of money and power. These are extremes.

Many are also killed (usually spiritually, though sometimes physically) for lesser ideals like the ideal man or woman, the ideal lifestyle, or the ideal career.

Every person holds a wide variety of ideals, and it is impossible not to. Each person should have the liberty to hold whatever ideals they choose.

However, if we are willing to kill ourselves or others for an ideal, then that ideal becomes an idol.

That idol becomes our god.

False idols and false gods are not acceptable because of the destruction they bring to self and to the world around us.

Are we willing to kill for a dead god—a god that only brings destruction?

As mentioned in a previous article, all things of this world are passing away. If we are overly attached to the things of this world, which is an attachment that results in murder of self and others, how can we expect to live once that attachment is severed at the coming of the only One who is everlasting: Jesus Christ?

Wouldn’t it be better if we attached ourselves to Jesus instead of our dead idols?

Jesus provides a replacement ideal for every idol of mankind.

The idols of mankind are spirits of destruction in this world.

The Word of God severs soul and spirit with Truth. When all dead things—all lying idols—are destroyed, who can stand? It is better to know what is true by He who is True. We cannot do this if we do not know Jesus and what He stands for.

Murder—in spirit and in the flesh—occurs every day because of our idols, and Christians are not immune. Many within the church have ideals that replace knowing Jesus, what He really stands for, and how a Christian ought to order their life. They have their ideal denomination or doctrine, their ideal teachers or pastors, or their ideal positions within the church.

As with all ideals, there is a measure of liberty so long as that ideal does not bring murder. When that ideal brings murder, we have an idol.

There are many idols in the church.

Many are killed (as of now usually in spirit). Many are slandered, accused, and cast out from their congregations. Many are bound by legalism that creates illusions of Christ but does not bring Christ to the heart.

Many Christians embrace idols of this world also, such as those mentioned in the list above.

Thank God for His mercy and the blood of Jesus.

Even the most devout of Christians will struggle against ungodly ideals—even idols—and we need to be careful in judging this. If we are given the proper insight and judgment of God, we can judge what is right and what is wrong in a systemic sense. However, when dealing with individuals, we cannot judge. We do not know the inner struggles a person might face. We do not know the torment a person endures as they fight against an ideal that runs their life or tempts them to sin.

As we get to know Jesus better, He will remove our idols from us. He will replace these idols with Himself, and He does so with patience and wisdom as one who knows our frame and is merciful towards us. If we trust in Jesus, we are saved. We are forgiven of the destruction we have brought, and we are saved from the destruction of all dead things.

However, as we follow Jesus more, we will also learn what it means to “take up our cross.” We might even lay our own lives down in faithfulness to Jesus. In whatever manner we die, we are raised from the dead by the only One who brings Life.

Let us consider our ideals that have become deadly idols, replacing Jesus with another god. Let us get to know Jesus better so that we can identify these dead idols and replace them with Christ.

Let us consider what Jesus has to say concerning all dead things—and in contrast what Jesus has to say about the ways of life. The scriptures teach us if we will pay attention to them and seek Jesus above man (including our idols within the church).

We need to recognize our poverty in spirit and seek Jesus in all things.

If we recognize our poverty in spirit, He will give us understanding of what the scriptures teach. If we love the Jesus we find and seek to keep His ways, we will again recognize our poverty in spirit because we know that we can never perform that which is pleasing to Him. If we seek Jesus in this, He will send the Holy Spirit to work on us. He will free us from all dead things overtime according to the purposes of God for each individual.

As we continue to learn and approach Jesus for more of His Kingdom, we will continue to see our poverty in spirit, though we also rejoice in the riches He gives to us—which is the richness Christ and not this world. We will rejoice in Christ both in this present life and in the Kingdom to come. When we are raised from the dead at His coming, we will find full release from all dead things and we will live forever.

There is no idol worth dying for other than Jesus Christ because He is Life.

All dead idols will be destroyed. The dead things of this world will consume this world, and many will die. However, all things are for the good of the children of God. Jesus loves us, and He will chastise us as sons. As a result, many Christians will suffer because of their deadly attachments. However, many will also find mercy at the resurrection of the just through the blood of Jesus.

All Christians will suffer for the name of Jesus, either in defense of His name or as we die to this world and grow into Him. It is better that we suffer for righteousness sake than we suffer because of our dead idols.

If we must die for the namesake of Jesus, let it be in defense of Him not because of chastisement.

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