Oct. 5, 2009 — -- In America these days, idols are everywhere. Music idols like Britney and Madonna. Sports idols like Jeter or Manning. Fashion idols like Gucci, Armani or Prada. We even have television shows to make our own "American Idol."
It's as if there is a need, a hunger in America to idolize.
But wait a minute. Isn't that just pop culture? Modern life? Isn't the second commandment about worshipping the golden calf and graven images?
Just what is an idol?
Pastor Mark Driscoll of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle has a clear answer.
"An idol is someone or something that occupies the place of God in your life," he said. "[It] gives you identity, meaning, value, purpose, love, significance, security. When the Bible uses the word 'idol', that's what it's getting at."
In Driscoll's theology, every person has a deep inner need to worship something. That's how people are made.
"If you worship alcohol you become an alcoholic. If you worship food, you become a glutton. If you worship pleasure you become a sex addict," Driscoll warned. "All the modern vernacular is really not dealing with the root issue of idolatry: Something or someone is preeminent other than God."
Driscoll points to the reaction millions of people had in the wake of the death of Michael Jackson.
"When his face is on your T-shirt and when you listen to his music for hours, when you give large sums of money to him personally, when his death causes you to go into a steep depression and you have a collection of memorabilia -- I think if you walked in from another culture, you would say that's a very curious god they've chosen," Driscoll said.
Driscoll also warns of the dangers misplaced worship can have on the people others idolized.
"It destroys them. Because they invariably disappoint. People can't do what God does," Driscoll said. "They aren't perfect. They aren't continually faithful. They don't' endure forever. That's why we live in a culture that when heroes fall we're devastated."