Read John 5:39-40
39-40 “You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want. (THE MESSAGE)
When we think of idols, we tend to imagine ornate statues or golden calves. Or more contemporary targets such as money or status or possessions. And these can be idols. But we need to recognise more subtle forms of idolatry too.
An idol is anything we try to use to meet those core needs that only God can fill. The object may not be wrong in itself, but assumes a wrong place when we focus on it wrongly. One clear instance of this sort of idolatry is contained in today’s text.
Jesus tells the Scripture scholars of his day that they were making an idol out of their scholarly study. Their religious expertise was their primary concern. Perhaps in a subtle sort of way they sought confidence in their own beliefs about God rather than in God himself. So when Jesus challenged some of their beliefs, they didn’t heed him. Their beliefs about the Messiah blinded them to the fact the Messiah was staring them in the face.
There can be other idols such as family or church ministry or doing good to the poor. These are obviously good things, but if they are the means by which we meet our core needs, they have become idols. And ‘respectable’ idols can be the hardest of all to recognise and overthrow.