Hobbies and Idolatry

By Beth Hyduke

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Regardless of the object of idolatry, the cure is always the same. The answer to idolatry is to destroy the idol in your heart and to reorient your worship towards the only One who is worthy to receive your worship. If your hobby has become an idol to you, you don't have to quit, but you do have to quit the idol. That might involve drastically changing the way you look at it, what you want out of it and expect from it, and the way you approach participating in it. The missionary Jim Elliott once wrote, "That man is no fool who forfeits what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." He meant of course what the Apostle Paul meant in Philippians 3:8 when he said, "I count all things loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I...count them as rubbish that I may gain Christ..." As rewarding as your advancement in your hobby may be to you on this side of eternity, how important will they be in the next life? Learning to actively foster an eternal perspective — to look at this life as nothing but an investment in the next (Matthew 6:19-21) — helps to counter our tendencies towards manufacturing idols for ourselves here and now out of interests, objectives, goals, and achievements that we know are all "passing away" (1 Corinthians 7:31). Paul writes, "Physical training has some value, but godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come" (1 Timothy 4:8). Christians should constantly be in the process of doing this side-by-side comparison and evaluating what they are truly investing themselves in. This helps us not just to identify our idols but helps us to see them as they truly are — objects unworthy of our fanaticism.

Most importantly, God is the ultimate cure for idolatrousness and the key to being rid of its hold over us. When we turn to Him in sincere faith, and as we come to know Him better and see more clearly who He is and what He has done for us, the unworthy and insufficient idols we have made for ourselves are exposed to us and by God's grace, torn down in our hearts. "Return to Him from whom you have deeply defected. For in that day everyone shall cast away his idols of silver and his idols of gold, which your hands have sinfully made for you" (Isaiah 31:6-7). Biblical repentance involves two parts — not just ceasing to do the sin but replacing the wrong attitude and behavior with the right attitude and behavior. So idolaters who have defected from God must not just turn away from their usurping idols but must return whole-heartedly to God who graciously provides the cure for idolatry with Himself, and who alone is worthy to receive glory, honor, power, and worship (Revelation 4:11 & 14:7).

For athletes: Because so much of their time and energy is focused on improving in their sport, many Christian athletes constantly struggle against their goals and achievements becoming a spiritually unhealthy obsession or even a full-blown idol. Here are several additional resources that might help you prevent this from becoming an issue in your life, or deal with it if it already has:

"Strengthen Your Faith Through Physical Exercise"
"Injury Interrupted my Idolatry"
A book by Stephen Altrogge, Game Day for the Glory of God: A Guide for Athletes, Fans, & Wannabees

Finally, you should check out the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) They have all sorts of resources available and ways you can join local groups in your area for young Christian athletes who want to grow in their faith and in their sport.

I am praying that God will give you wisdom and discernment in dealing with this issue to His glory and your lasting good. God bless you!

Image Credit: slgckgc; "Race Medals"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth Christian-Life Health-Wellness

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Published on 10-6-15