You must not have any other god but me.
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. (NLT)
In the days of Exodus, idolatry took the form of creating some object of worship out of wood or metal. Or perhaps giving ultimate allegiance to something on earth or in the sky. Nowadays we don’t do a lot of that, and yet there is still the danger of idolatry.
Whenever we put something or someone in the place of God, giving them priority over God, giving our allegiance to them instead of God, we are committing idolatry. The subtlety of this is simply that these things can be good in themselves. Family or work or physical fitness can all be godly pursuits in their proper place. But exalt them over all else and they are idols.
We can even make idols of our own nation. ‘My country right or wrong’ sounds like passionate patriotism. It is in fact moral ignorance and a form of idolatry. Certainly a love of one’s country and loyalty to it is part of our Christian obligation to our present world order. Being thankful for our country is a rightful part of our more general thanksgiving to God for his blessings to us. And barracking for our nation in sporting contests seems to come quite naturally for most.
But draping our faith in some national flag, identifying our own national interests with those of God, is dangerous idolatry. By all means love our sunburnt country. But never worship it.