Idols: Our False Gods Leaders Guide

Special Considerations for the Frustration and False Gods Episodes

  1. These episodes focus on the realities that Christians experience as a result of living in a fallen world.  Depending on the faith tradition that one was formed by, this may be a new emphasis for some.  The reality of the fallen world means that the world is not as God intended—it is marked by evil and suffering—and Christians experience suffering and evil in this life—their faith does not give them immunity.  At the same time, God is at work in our lives through the Gospel, and that gives us great hope.  Theologians call this the “already/not yet” tension of the Christian life, and this tension is a normal aspect of Christian experience.  Often when Christians experience this tension, they think something is wrong with their faith, but that is not the case.
  2. The conversations in these episodes are also designed to help us understand our tendency to turn to idols to satisfy our desires.  This deeper conception of our sinfulness may make some folks uneasy—if there is someone in the group (or you) who can give an example from your own life to help others understand, that can help free them to be honest with their own struggles.  Use the quotes to help the group reflect on these issues.
  3. These episodes may surface deep questions about situations in their life that group members are currently struggling to trust God with.  As the group leader, you don’t need to have all of the answers for them.  In such situations, the loving presence of the group, expressed through prayer and practical help, is perhaps the best way for the group to minister to them.


Join the Conversation

Record thoughts and questions here that come up as you watch the episode.  Explore them later with the group.

Listen to God’s Word: Isaiah 40:18-31

Discuss the Episode

  1. Tremper’s early spiritual journey involved legalism, a belief that if we do enough religious things, we will be happy because we are doing what God requires. Have you experienced legalism in your life or the lives of others?
  2. Idols are almost always some aspect of God’s good creation – work, money, relationships, wisdom, knowledge, even spirituality – that we substitute for God. How can we tell when something becomes idolatrous?
  3. Dan states that we will struggle with idols our whole lives. He mentions that idols give us a sense of power and let us hide from a world that is tough. What are the idols that you rely on? What are things that we can do as individuals and as communities to keep potential idols in their proper place, e.g, gifts from God to be enjoyed.
  4. Technology (eg. cell phones, laptops, televisions) are essential to function in our society, but is also a source of frustration and can have harmful and disruptive effects in our lives. How can technology be both helpful and hurtful? Does technology control us more than we control it? What would a Christian perspective on technology look like?


Reflect on What Others Have to Say

Underline and mark ideas you would like to discuss.

The idolater would suppose his idol to represent some supernatural force or being, but [Isaiah] inculcates a true understanding.  Idols may look magnificent, venerable and mysterious, they may excite a sense of awe, but there is nothing there except the materials – no ability but human ability, no innate resources but those of the earth….[An idol] does no more than reflect the resources of the one who commissioned it.
Alex Motyer, The Prophecy of Isaiah: An Introduction and Commentary

An idol is something within creation that is inflated to function as God. All sorts of things are potential idols; depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...Idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God’s existence or character. It may well come in the form of an over‐attachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be a physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero ‐ anything that can substitute for God.
Richard Keyes, No God But God: Breaking with the Idols of Our Age

Repentance can be defined as the true turning of our life to God, a turning that arises from a pure and earnest fear of him; and it consists in the mortification of our flesh and of the old man, and in the vivification of the Spirit….Both things happen to us by participation in Christ….Therefore, in a word, I interpret repentance as regeneration, whose sole end is to restore in us the image of God that had been disfigured and all but obliterated through Adam’s transgression….And indeed, this restoration does not take place in one moment or one day or one year; but through continual and sometimes even slow advances God wipes out in his elect the corruptions of the flesh, cleanses them of guilt, consecrates them to himself as temples renewing all their minds to true purity that they may practice repentance throughout their lives and know that this warfare will end only at death.  

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion

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