5 Signs that Something is an Idol in your Life

Written By Grace Debora, Indonesia

I was swept up by the Korean wave and became an avid follower of K-Pop in 2009. Back then, I was obsessed with the 12-member boy band, Super Junior. Every break time, my friends and I would gather and talk excitedly about our favorite members, gush over YouTube videos we had watched the night before, or share facts we dug up about them.

Pop culture has become an entrenched and essential part of the lives of young people today. Who hasn’t heard of the queen of pop, Taylor Swift, the popular British boy band, One Direction, or heartthrob Song Joong-ki of the recent K-drama hit, Descendants of the Sun? With the accessibility of information, it’s easy to find ourselves obsessing about our favorite “idols” and getting wrapped up in what’s going on in their lives. In my case, this pattern went on for about a year until God pulled me back and showed me that my life focus had shifted.

Today, the term “idol” is used flippantly to refer to celebrities or whoever we revere or hero-worship. But in the Scriptures, “idol” refers to foreign gods or anything that replace God in our life. In fact, the first commandment God gave to the Israelites was, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Amid a culture of idolatry, God explicitly commanded His people to worship Him alone.

And He demands the same of us today. But first, we need to identify what “idols” we have in our lives. For me, these were the signs that showed something else had replaced God in my life:

1. Time

The amount of time we spend on something reveals how important it is to us. When I was obsessed about Super Junior, I would spend all my time after school downloading and watching videos of them, and reading up about them.

2. Energy and resources

Along with time, we might find ourselves pouring our energy and resources willingly into cultivating our interests. I remember spending a lot of money on Super Junior’s albums, concerts, merchandise, and even on programs organized by the international fan club. Emotions-wise, I was so invested that I sometimes got mad at others who would bad-mouth my favorite artists—to the point that I found myself despising them.

3. Phone content

What we browse online, listen to, or view on our playlists or our social media accounts indicates what we’re preoccupied with. Back then, all the pictures on my phone were of Super Junior, my playlist had almost every song from every album they released and my social media accounts were flooded with updates by the fan clubs or the stars themselves. I followed many K-pop news sites and even signed up for an account in a foreign language so that I could follow their updates.

4. State of affairs

When God is not first and foremost in our lives, our lives show. Life becomes disorderly and things take a turn for the worst. During those moments where I lived and breathed Super Junior, I was sleep-deprived, haphazard in my school assignments, and lackluster in my service in church. Even though I followed a Bible reading plan, my mind was far away from His Word.  

5. Community

“Birds of a feather flock together.” That was evident in my life. All my friends were those who liked the same idol group and we did similar things together. At first, our conversation seemed lively and our friendship fun, but in reality, it brought me nowhere.

I started to limit my involvement in church, and did not bother to get to know others outside my group of friends who loved Super Junior. I also did not find it necessary to mingle with other friends—I thought my group of friends was the best. Later on, I found out that some friends stopped hanging out with us because they had felt left out.

 

Although God used friends, sermons, and devotions to sound the alarm in my life, I ignored the warning signs until one particular sermon forced me to question who I am and what I live for. That’s when it struck me that I had been wasting my life. Guilt and regret overwhelmed me when I came face to face with the reality that God was not the one I was worshipping; I had made Super Junior an idol.

So I repented. I deleted all the videos, threw away all the merchandise I had collected, and basically, removed all things related to Super Junior. It was hard at first—but that feeling only lasted for a week. The hardest part was not being able to keep up with the conversations. I tried changing the topic. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Nonetheless, I thank God that He helped me retain my friends. Moreover, God brought back the close friends I thought I had lost!

Idols may come in many different forms. It may be our work, social media, drama serials, or even our church ministry—anything that causes us to lose our focus and personal time with God. In college, I was addicted to watching movies. But thankfully, God made that known to me and enabled me to change.

God will not allow His children to remain in their sins. He wants us to live according to His plan and will. Therefore, He will use various ways to bring us back to Him. And if we recognize that God is prompting us to return to Him, let’s hurry back and return. Let’s put Him first and foremost in our lives.

Photo credit: mduangdara via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

4 replies
  1. Emily Fam
    Emily Fam says:

    Yes , you are right ! Even I’m in the same situation as you , past few years ago, I’m so obsessed and addicted towards k-pop star , however God helped me and HE had changed my life a lot. Now I even quited social media as well, I spend every 30 minutes to Pray and read “our daily bread” Devotional book to Our LORD.

    Reply
  2. Nicole
    Nicole says:

    I enjoy watching K-dramas, and I like to unwind at the end of the day by watching Running Man and maybe an episode of whatever drama I’m watching at that time. However, I do make it a point to read the Bible and pray before I watch my shows. Lately I find that there are times when I struggle with the temptation to rush through my devotional time so I can watch my shows. I still try to push through it as best as I can. I’m kind of a homebody, and I don’t particularly love my job, so there are days when I can’t wait to get home so I can (eventually) watch my shows, without considering the idea of doing anything else for fun after work. There are times when I’m eating dinner with my family and I’m mentally calculating how much time I have left in the evening to take a shower, do my devotional time, and watch a show or two before I go to sleep. Sometimes if there’s a night that I have to forego watching a show, I feel like I’m missing out on something, and sometimes I’ve stayed up later than necessary to finish an episode of a show. A lot of K-dramas have cliffhanger endings at the end of each episode, so sometimes during the day I’ll think about the show and wonder what will happen next. My relationship with Running Man is a little different–I enjoy watching the camaraderie between the cast members, and the show almost always makes me laugh at loud, and there are times when I feel like these people are so familiar to me that they’re almost like my friends. I write a Christian music news and reviews website, and I’ve fallen behind on my deadlines because a) they’re pretty lax about deadlines and b) when I get home from work I don’t really feel like writing–I’d rather watch my shows. I know we live in a culture of binge watching, and I’m fairly certain I know people at church who are obsessed with certain shows, and the shows I watch tend to be cleaner than the ones they watch, but I’m still concerned that Korean shows have become an idol in my life. At the same time, I tend to go to extremes in my walk and I feel like every time I enjoy something I’m afraid it’s going to become an idol or already is. And what’s the harm in enjoying a well-written show that has very few content issues? But the thought of giving up Korean shows makes me sad, and that makes me wonder if my reaction is normal or idolatrous. What should I do? Should I limit myself to one episode of a show per night, only watch it on the weekends, take a week off, take a month off, or completely get rid of it? What if I get rid of it and find something else to take its place, like reading books? I just don’t know anymore…

    Reply
    • YMI
      YMI says:

      Hi Nicole, you’ve raised some extremely valid and real issues. I think many of us can relate to what you’ve shared. 🙂 There’s probably no one-size-fits-all approach, we all need to examine our own hearts and ask why there are things we can’t seem to let go of, but more importantly, pour our hearts to God and ask Him for the grace to help us return to Him. And another helpful way could be to find a community that can keep us accountable.

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