When Object Lessons Become Idols

I always use objects when available to help explain a spiritual truth. I believe that if I can use a common, every day, item to help remind children, and adults, about God, then they will begin to see God in their lives all around them. The object is just that, an object, a tool to be used to draw people to God. Jesus used objects, earthly things, to teach spiritual lessons. We call those parables and I love to use parables (object lessons).

This time of year, Christmas, there are symbols and objects all around us that can be used to draw us close to Jesus. Object lessons abound from the candy cane, to candles/lights, trees, cookies, and the list goes on and on. But what happens when these objects become idols?


I was teaching a group of 5th & 6th graders and sharing how I did not have a Christmas tree in my house. Not because of any conviction, but because of convenience. We weren’t home much and no one was coming to celebrate the holiday at our house. We were going somewhere else. They were amazed. They could not imagine Christmas without a tree! The tree and the decor become a priority for the holiday.

Children, and adults, cannot imagine a Christmas without presents. The Christmas carols, the lights, the trimmings of the holiday have become a must. There are other times during the year as well when this occurs, but Christmas is the biggest.

Are we putting the tree, the lights, and all the peripherals of the holiday before God?

My most favorite Christmas show, or book, is the original How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In it, all of the trees, the food, the presents, the lights, the decorations of the holiday are gone when they awake the morning of the holiday. What is their response? They still celebrate as if it was all still there. Why? Because the trimmings are not the reason for the celebration, there is something much greater. The have not made the object lessons an idol.

How would you feel if you did not have a tree at Christmas? If you had no presents? No big meal? Could you still rejoice in the hope that the Baby Jesus brought to the world, or would the world keep you from that hope?

When object lessons become idols, it distorts our worship.


We begin to focus on the idol, the object of the lesson, and not the one that the object should be leading you to. That is when our worship of the One True God is distorted and the objects become the greater focus, the object becomes what we truly begin to worship.

How about you this season? Has the object lesson become an idol? Or are you worshiping the one whom the object points to, the One True God?