In the book of Exodus, the Israelites — impatiently waiting for Moses as he spoke with God — began to worship a golden calf. While today’s idols aren’t as easily recognizable, they are just as dangerous and destructive as the carved images that distracted the God-followers of the Old Testament.
At the top of the list of the idols believers struggle with today is “comfort” (67%), according to new data released by LifeWay Research, which surveyed 1,000 Protestant pastors in September of last year.
In total, the pastors surveyed for the study identified eight idols that distract Christians from the Lord.
“It’s easy to think that those in Christian churches have chosen their God and are faithful to Him,” said LifeWay Research Director Scott McConnell. “However, pastors quickly acknowledge how divided their congregations’ allegiances can be. These gods don’t have a physical shine, but they compete for the hearts of Christians.”
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Following closely behind believers’ desire for comfort is the idolization of “control or security” (56%).
Other common idols are “money” (55%), “approval” (51%), “success” (49%), “social influence” (46%), “political power” (39%), and “sex or romantic love” (32%), according to the study.
Interestingly, the just-published data from LifeWay Research reveals younger pastors are seemingly more concerned than older pastors about worldly idols competing with prioritizing God:
The younger pastors are, the more likely they are to see money as a rival object of worship. Pastors ages 18-44 (63%) and 45-54 (58%) are more likely to say money is an idol in their churches than pastors 65 and older (46%).
Furthermore, older pastors are less likely to identify any of these potential idols among their congregants. Pastors ages 55-64 (18%) and over 64 (19%) are more likely to say none of these are idols in their churches than pastors 18-44 (9%) or 45-54 (10%).
McConnell admitted the study’s researchers did not isolate a “definitive” reason for the difference between younger and older pastors and their respective perception of idols.
“There are signs that younger pastors are of the mindset that idols are rampant today, whereas older pastors may be slower to classify one of these as having significant influence on their people, or they may define idols more narrowly,” he said.
The director also noted a common thread among the top three idols — “comfort,” “control and security,” and “money” — with which believers struggle.
“Comfort and security draw the hearts of the most congregations, but they are often enabled by the pursuit of more money,” McConnell explained. “Pastors of higher socioeconomic levels are quicker to recognize the influence of security and control while pastors of lower socioeconomic levels more readily see the draw of comforts.”
On the latest episode of CBN’s “Faith vs. Culture,” show co-hosts Dan Andros, Billy Hallowell, and Tré Goins-Phillips explored the modern-day idols that distract Christians and how to ensure God remains the No. 1 priority.
You can watch that discussion below:
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