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Rediscovering Values for Lent: What is Idolatry?

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Editors' note: During the season of Lent we will be posting excerpts from the Rediscovering Values Lenten Study Guide. We invite you to study God's word with us through these posts.]

Lectionary reading: Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.

Excerpt from Rediscovering Values:

"Today, instead of statues, we have hedge funds, mortgage-backed securities, 401(k)s, and mutual funds. We place blind faith in the hope that the stock indexes will just keep rising and real estate prices keep climbing. Market mechanisms were supposed to distribute risk so well that those who were reckless would never see the consequences of their actions. Trust, security, and hope in the future were all as close to us as the nearest financial planner's office. Life and the world around us could all be explained with just the right market lens. These idols were supposed to make us happy and secure and provide for all our needs. Those who manage them became the leaders to whom we looked, not just for financial leadership, but direction for our entire lives. That is idolatry" (page 29).

Discussion Question:

In the wilderness, Jesus is tempted by the devil three times. We might reduce these three temptations to the desire for provision, security, and power. How would you define idolatry? How does the discipline of fasting help to "expose" idols in our lives?

[This post is excerpted from A Lenten Study Guide for use with Rediscovering Values.]

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Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.


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