I have been working through Daniel 3 this week. The story of the three Hebrews being thrown into the fiery furnace because they would not "fall down and worship" the image that King Nebuchadnezzar set up.
They didn't do it, because that sort of act would violate Exodus 20, which says that our allegiance should be to God alone. God spelled it out clearly and any other allegiance is idol-worship.
As I have probed, thought, and meditated on this more, I realize how easy it is to worship idols. John thought so, because he ends his first epistle with a warning about it. I don't think his words are limited to statues and figurines, either.
In many ways the default position of the human heart is to worship something, isn't it? That is how we were born, that is how we live! Show me a 9-year-old, and I will show you someone who is awed by the latest game, toy, or thing. Show me a 39-year-old, and I will show you someone who is loving and sacrificing for a (higher-priced) toy, a relationship, a career, etc. We were made to worship, and our decisions, attitudes, motives, etc. reveal what we are worshipping.
I can honestly say that a big statue really doesn't do much for me on the worship meter. I am really not tempted. But if we say that you worship "the most important thing in the world to you," then my heart is challenged. If we are to look at what we are most concerned about, what we think about, what makes us sad if we can't get it, what affects our life, we are even digging deeper.
Based on those kind of thoughts, something may be good and proper in its place, but the moment it goes from being nice to ultimate, it has become an idol.
If I begin to define idol-worship in those categories, I may not be as far from "falling down and worshipping" things as I would like to be. I may be more like the crowd on the plain of Dura in Daniel 3 who mindlessly bowed before the image, and less like three men who chose to order their life based on God's truth.
Where am I vulnerable? What are some things/feelings that could become idols. I will share those at another time, but God seems to be working me over in that area!