The Collecting Christian Part I: Idolatry

Picture taken from: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v237/poisonivory2/caps/shrine.png

Picture taken from: http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v237/poisonivory2/caps/shrine.png

Overview:

One day while praying on my lunch break I had the idea to do this series of articles on being a Christian who collects things. The purpose of this series isn’t to condemn anyone who collects, but to simply explore some possible pitfalls that we may come across with being both Christians and collectors. While this could probably be extended to a much larger degree (Hey, there are probably books on the subject for all I know), I’m going to focus on four areas that came to mind:

1) Idolatry

2) Greed

3) Covetousness

4) Earthly Treasure/Heavenly Treasure

I plan to do a separate article for each and ask that comments remain relevant to the particular articles’ focus; in other words, please discuss idolatry on the idolatry article and greed on the greed article, not vice versa. That being said…

Idolatry

“I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.3 “You must not have any other god but me. – Exodus 20: 2-3 (NLT) (1)

Typically, I would quote from the NIV but I chose the NLT this time because of the wording (no translation wars, please; that is not the point of this article). Simply put, a lot of translations seem to use the phrasing “you shall have no other gods before me” in some capacity. While the meaning may be the same as the above, it leaves open the possible (mis)interpretation that, so long as we worship God first and foremost, it’s okay if we are a bit worshippy towards other things. As I understand it, that’s not the case, and the meaning is as above: God is to be our only God, period. This may or may not be common sense, but an idol is, essentially, something we worship other than God. It does not have to be a stone statue of some pagan deity to count. Ultimately, anything that takes a place in our hearts or lives that should only belong to God becomes an idol. I am certainly no expert on the criteria for something becoming an “idol,” but I’ll take my best shot and hope that you fine readers will contribute your thoughts in the comments section.

So, let’s get the obvious out of the way: if you’re bowing down to it, singing praises to it, and other things that you would typically associate with straight-up worship, then you’re treating it like an idol. Do people do this with their collections? Maybe not quite so obviously, but I think the following image may very well qualify:

Picture taken from: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JZJKUMesReE/TNwRhvVuJAI/AAAAAAAAAi8/z2Bf0aynuHI/s640/otaku-celebrate-birthday-of-azusa-nakano-010.jpg

Picture taken from: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_JZJKUMesReE/TNwRhvVuJAI/AAAAAAAAAi8/z2Bf0aynuHI/s640/otaku-celebrate-birthday-of-azusa-nakano-010.jpg

If this is what I expect it to be, then it is a picture of a fan celebrating the “birthday” of K-On! character, Azusa. Now, I’m quite a fan of K-On!. I have figures of the characters (including Azusa), as well as the blu-rays of the show and (most) of the manga, but there is a fine line between appreciating a character (or a series) and being infatuated with them–a line we may all very well cross at times, whether we realize it or not. Now, granted, I cannot judge the spirit behind what this person is doing, so I can’t definitively say the person who did this is guilty of idolatry, but I think this is certainly an idea of what idolatry of a collection could look like. At the very least, it could be argued that this person is venerating a fictitious character enough to observe her birthday.

Let’s get a little more obscure, shall we? What if our collection starts taking up more time or money than God? Does that make it an idol? I think it’s easier to make the case for money. If you tithe on your income (that’s 10%, in case you’re unaware), then do you spend more on your particular collection than you tithe? Personally, I see this as hard to do unless you are a hardcore collector. Let’s crunch some numbers for a moment:

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to say I make $30,000 a year. That means that my tithe to God would be $3,000 a year. Let’s take my hobby as a gamer and compare it to that. Even if I bought a PS4 and then bought a $60 game at the time of purchase, and then another game each month for the rest of the year, I would only spend $1119.99 total on that game collection a year–a significantly less amount than my tithe. How does money relate to idolatry? I would argue that, since our money ultimately comes from God, then we should probably make sure to honor Him with it first. Now, the argument could be made that God only asks for 10% back, and then we can do with the 90% what we will. Debate that if you will, but let’s not forget that we have other responsibilities besides our collections: bills, food, home and car maintenance, etc., and we are stewards of all these things that God has given us. Even if God has given us that 90% to do with as we wish, we are still responsible for caring for the other things He has placed in our care. If our collections or hobbies get in the way of this, then we have to ask ourselves what we are valuing more: our stewardship of God’s goods, or our own personal collections. The whole issue of spending on collections versus giving to God gets a little more muddy for someone, like me, who has multiple things he collects: should I apply my rule as a collective rule to the total sum of my collections, or should I just make sure that no one collection gets more money spent on it than what I give in tithes?

Time is a little more tricky for me, and let me explain why. The obvious thing here is that, if you are ultimately sacrificing time that you would have spent with God for the sake of your collecting, then you are breaching idolatry territory because you are willingly avoiding God to sink time into this collection of yours. I do not know that I would go so far as to say that spending more time with your collection than with God immediately equals idolatry, though. Simply put, if we spend three hours with God only so we can justify spending two hours working on our collections, then what is the true status of our hearts? Didn’t we just essentially use God so we can justify what we wanted to do? On the other hand, if we only spend thirty minutes with God while spending more time working on our collections, but that time with God sets our direction for the day and causes us to reflect on His word even when we’re spending time doing other things, then I would argue that God is still the most important thing to us. I may be using this out of context (please correct me if I am), but Oswald Chambers has a quote that I think is applicable here:

“It is not the thing we spend the most time on that moulds us most; the greatest element is the thing that exerts most power. We must determine to be limited and concentrate our affinities.”(2)

Simply put: does God or our collection exert the most power over us?

While this could inevitably go on, I’ll close with a question that can probably be assumed from things already said: what holds the place of prominence in our hearts?

We can offer God all of the religious language and body poses we want, but if our hearts are ultimately consumed with our collections–if we’re worshipping God in church or at home, and all we can think about is when we can get home to our stuff–then we have us an idol. Ultimately, if we love our collections more than God–if God is just an obstacle we must get through in order to spend more time on our collections, rather than the One we give thanks to for allowing us to enjoy these things–then our collection is our god, and we have exchanged the glory of God for an idol. Can any of us truly say that we never slip into idolatry with our collections? To that, I must simply say that I don’t know. It’s certainly a question that I constantly ask myself, particularly in the area of videogames. While I have no problem going without playing a game, I certainly prefer being able to play over not being able to play. Is it idolatrous to get excited over our collections or the thought of our collections–perhaps, even, over the thought of adding to our collections? Again, I don’t know, although I suppose it would have something to do in part with how much emphasis we put on these things.

I previously admitted that this whole topic could certainly be fleshed out more, and that includes each individual area. I am certainly no expert on idols, and this article is really just a reflection from things that I know/have learned/etc. We could probably discuss this for years and still have new thoughts coming in. That being said, I welcome any and all comments and thoughts that you may have. Some questions you may like to consider:

1) Do you have a collection?
2) If so, how do you keep it from becoming an idol?
3) Is it just too dangerous for a Christian to have a collection of anything?

Of course, you’re not limited to those questions at all. Sound off below!

Resources:

(1) https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+20&version=NLT

(2) http://utmost.org/classic/don%E2%80%99t-slack-off-classic/

Background image taken from: http://th06.deviantart.net/fs44/PRE/i/2009/134/a/e/Mecha_Model_Collection_by_yukikaze07.jpg

Rob M.

Christian, anime fan, and gamer are a few words you could use to describe me. I've been a Christian since 2012 (and thought I was one prior to that), although I'm far from having the Christian walk down pat. At one point I started thinking about how I could use various things for Christ, and eventually put my thoughts to action, resulting in Cosplay for Christ (my attempt at a cosplay ministry) and Christian Anime Review (my review blog). As you can imagine, I enjoy playing games, watching anime, and going to anime conventions. I also like to build Gundam models, fiddle with the guitar (occasionally), and listen to music (mostly Christian rock and metal).

21 Comments

  1. Mark A. on June 13, 2024 at 11:05 am

    I am a Christian, who spends time who spends time with Jesus the first thing in the morning as I pray to Him and spread verses related to my devotion. He is the last I speak to at night as He is my greatest friend whom I have accepted as my Lord and Savior who has performed supernatural miracles on me and had answered many of my prayers. Jesus is everything to me.

    I stopped collecting as a hobby last year, I believe, and just fell for the temptation of purchasing another valuable item for my collection. I now feel guilty and am almost in tears as I remember that the Bible says to seek first the kingdom of God and not earthly treasures. Yet I know in my heart that God is still my number one priority. However I’m in fear that I have foolishly switched from my journey through the narrow road of Christ to the broad road of evil and may be left behind during the rapture (which will happen in the twinkling of an eye), the second coming of Christ, or during the time I stand in judgement before the Lord which may happen at a time I do not expect; therefore, I still plan to put God as my number one priority as I spend time each day with Him and spread His word. As I continue to keep God as my first priority over anything, have I sinned by purchasing this item?

  2. Daniel on October 23, 2023 at 8:33 pm

    Hello, I am led by the Holy Spirit to share my own personal experience with you all. I’m not here to condemn, I’m here to tell you the truth in love. Please don’t go in “lawyer mode” and try to justify collecting toys, figures, etc. it IS idolatry! I URGE you to repent and throw out your collections ASAP!! Do not sell them! Even though Jesus says to sell what you have and give to the poor, you must use good judgement when it comes to selling things. The most dangerous thing you can do is make assumptions, and I speak from experience.

    So here is my story:
    This year I’ve been growing really close to God and following the commands of Jesus Christ more intimately. The Holy Spirit convicted me to stop playing video games, watching secular entertainment and collecting toys. To clarify, I stopped collecting toys a few months ago, but I recently felt convicted to stop holding on to the collectibles I already had in my possession. I was determined to get rid of my Funko Pop collection a few weeks ago, and I had heard that my local comic book shop was buying Funko Pop collections. I didn’t sell everything at once, though, I brought one box of Pops to them at a time. The first time I went to that shop, they didn’t buy the box I had because the owner wasn’t available to give me a price. I should’ve taken that as a sign from God that this was a bad idea, but I didn’t think anything of it. I was told the owner would be present the following day, so I went and sold my first box of Funkos. A few trips to the comic book shop later, God starts showing me some scriptures that pertain to idolatry, which convinced me that selling those Funko Pops was the wrong move. The one that got me the most was Matthew 18:6, where Jesus pronounces woe on the person who causes others to sin. My heart was so broken after that, I began to tearfully plead with God for forgiveness and mercy. I committed a horrible offense by causing customers in that comic book shop to covet, AKA idolize (see Colossians 3::5) the Funko Pops that I sold. Selling those Pops only drove people even further away from God.

    By the way, Funko Pops, as well as any action figure or statue, fit the Biblical description of an idol, “eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; noses they have, but they do not smell; they have hands, but they do not handle; feet they have, but they do not walk; nor do they mutter through their throat” (see Psalm 115:5-7). I spent a whole day fasting, repenting (breaking and throwing out the rest of my Funko Pop collection and other collectibles I had) and praying. I was so moved with repentance that I even went back to the comic book shop and bought back the remaining Funko Pops that I sold, broke them and tossed them in my garbage at home. I didn’t want anyone else to covet any more of what I sold.

    I can say with certainty that collecting is in fact idolatry. I know this is a very hard truth for many of you, but please do not gamble with your own salvation! I was absolutely grieved over selling some of my Funko Pop collection which caused others to sin. I also regret ever being a collector in the first place. If God thinks that selling collectibles is a sin, how much more are we sinning by buying them! I can say with full confidence, though, that I am forgiven now. I feel moved to tell you all about my personal experience and to encourage you to repent, meaning throwing out your collections. Do not make the same mistake I did by selling. God bless you all and thanks for taking the time to read my testimony on collecting and idolatry.

    Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. – 1 John 5:21

    • SJQRS on April 22, 2024 at 4:38 am

      Thank you for your testimony, I believe you are correct. My question would be, is it also wrong to collect old MTG cards in your opinion? I ask this because the discussion and your testimony seems to be about figures (I have thrown out all my figures). I also still have some secular movies on dvd.

  3. Larry on October 13, 2022 at 1:33 am

    I collect a few things from figures, comics, to cards and video games. My collections aren’t very extreme or plentiful, but I have grown to learn to be happy with what you get in life. I am 39 years old and when I was younger, I was more invested with time in engaging them. As I have gotten older, I have decided to make the decision to live for the Lord. While I still enjoy collecting these things and playing video games, I find myself spending less time with them to the point to where I just simply collect them. I may look at them from time to time, but that is a rare occasion. They mostly just sit there in their boxes and stay put with no activity. The part that I engage in the most is my video games. I never brag, show off, or revel in them. We have to remember that they are things of the world, and we are not. I believe it is ok to enjoy our collections as long as they don’t take the place of the Lord. They are side pieces that must always take a backseat in our lives when compared to God and family. Trust me, like all of you, I have wondered if my collections are interfering with my devotion to God. I have come to the conclusion that mine are not, although I believe it might have gotten close to that point when I was younger.
    When I was younger, I liked to engage in my collections and enjoyed spending time with them far more than I do now. Mostly it was video games and anime. I was a heavy gamer in my younger years, and I watched a lot of anime. However, as I get older the time I spend playing video games is becoming less and I hardly watch any anime anymore. I will undoubtedly occasionally increase my collection, but I am starting to believe that one day it will run its course and I might part with it all. Maybe not, only time will tell. God is on my mind throughout most of the day and it simply isn’t the same anymore. I find myself putting priority in anything relating to worshipping the Lord.
    In conclusion, I am not saying that people should not collect or even spend time with their collections. However, when the collections start to take priority over God and family then that is where the line is crossed. When it comes to our material possessions no matter what they are, there must always be a line that must never be crossed. Remember to put God first. God bless all of you and I pray for the Lord to give you all happiness.

  4. Steven on June 25, 2021 at 7:31 am

    Thank you for a great article and for the many comments. It’s heart warming to see so many of us striving to strip away worldly ways and be truly at one with spirit.

    I have experienced this scenario through a hobby of collecting baseball cards of my favourite team for manyyears. I agree that any time and money spent on such a hobby could have been better invested. A form of addiction has also been identified as a factor in some of the replys above. I also think there is a common thread that runs through all of these scenarios: Identity.

    Often our collection, affiliations, alignments, etc come from the same place – our sense of identity. A need in us for a sense of identity and a sense of belonging. I believe the part of our spirit that draws us to these feelings is intended to draw us closer to God. Often however, we channel it through a range of identity based affiliations – to a sports team, a sci-fi series, our place of education our nationality, our denomination. We then look for ways to be attached and project this affiliation or identity.

    We often find ways to align these affiliations (or attachments) to our faith but the more I’ve centred on it, the more I’ve come to realise these have to be let go of to truly be at one. The thing is, it’s easier said than done.

    There are almost levels of difficulty that come with a higher degree of challenge each time. When we let go of our attachment to our card collection, or something similar, the challenge can be addiction. A sports team? – a sense of loyalty. When we work up to something at the high end of our perceived identity, like nationality, we feel challenged by our own sense of attachment to an identity we share with many of the people that are around us and often the challenges of those people when we try to step away from it. We may be accused of not being patriotic for example.

    The thing is flag waving, team jersey wearing, cosplaying… when we look at them through this lens – all forms of idolatry. Each of them channeling a good energy into meaningless identity instead of to the spirit. “I’m a Tar heel”, “I’m an American”… and yup, even “I’m a geek”. All identity building that we do.

    I’m not condemning anyone with my comments. I myself am still in the process of truly realising the breadth of all this. We are all looking to live in God’s peace yet we continually allow ourselves to build identity. By definition, identity is a form of separation and a creator and highlighter of differences between us. That always leads conflict and conflict is the opposite of peace. One of the most disheartening things I ever witnessed was two older people sobbing in the back row at the baptism of a child. I asked someone if these people had recently suffered a loss. I was told they were crying because the mother and father of the child were of different denominations and they were upset that the child had been baptised in this particular church rather than the one they chose to affiliate with. Their alignment and sense of identity prevented them from seeing the purpose of the wonderful event they were attending.

    Don’t get me wrong – we are all individual in the sense of our life experiences that have shaped us. Without those experiences we couldn’t possibly find ourselves truly looking to walk the path. We can’t do it because someone else thinks it’s best. Accepting our differences in that way is good. But we need to think hard about the things we invite into our lives. Will they help us progress on the path or draw us from it. Do they show us truth or bedazzle us with illusion.

    It’s for us to work out and It’s wonderful that we’re here sharing our thoughts openly and constructively.

  5. Teodoro Garcia on May 22, 2020 at 11:38 pm

    This a cool article. I am Shogun Warrior collector and Godzilla and made wondered if my collection was ok. Yes I agree it can lead you to idolatry, thanks

    • Sydney Zack on July 31, 2023 at 12:58 am

      My thoughts is yes, Jesus said to sell your possessions and give to the poor. Jesus also said to store treasures in heaven and not on Earth. Whatever you possessions you have on Earth will not go with you. God truly owns everything, we are meant to be stewards of the land and humbling serving him and learning his character. There’s also Proverbs 28:25 that says, The greedy stir up conflict, but those who trust in the LORD will prosper. I’ve had a lot of conflict in my mind with my boyfriend because when we met I didn’t know he was a collector. I found out after I asked him to move in with me, it was already a plan. So I tried to understand and learn to be ok with it. I’ve still been trying but I’m heavily considering breaking up our relationship because it has been a three year relationship and I haven’t gotten over the fact that he owns SO many possessions and continues to collect. To me, it doesn’t make sense for a Christ follower to own that many things.

      • Harry Nac on January 5, 2024 at 6:48 pm

        So breaking up with him is ok? But collecting not? WoW mindblowing. So you had intercourse together? Are not married? Live together but you write about selling earthly possessions? Well this is like just Wow

  6. Rebekah Hiatt on March 6, 2020 at 5:24 am

    Hello, my name is Rebekah. I came across this and I’ve got to say I feel like I’ve been battling for the past few weeks. I love God first and foremost and I’m married. Have a son as well. I happen to love watching anime to the point I started collecting manga and then got into light novel reading. As a downtime I know it’s not a bad thing. But I know if it interferes with spending time with God, and like you said, taking up alot of money, then yeah it becomes an idol. So my struggle is should I let my light novels go especially if it’s going before God? Would love to hear your thoughts ????

  7. Codename Zell on February 7, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for posting this article. My pondering of this led me to here. I have reflected on this same idea for a long time since I have reconnected with Christ. I have actively avoided trading card games/collection games that I used to play a lot such as Yu-gi-oh and Pokemon, because I can’t enjoy playing them without obsessing over them and investing large sums of time and money in them. It sucks, because I know how much these collections and trading card games have contributed to having met many of the friends that I have strong bonds with now. It almost feels like a betrayal at times, but ultimately I have found it to be wiser in the long run to not participate when my friends offer. After a few offers, my friends back off with understanding and we continue as the great friends that we have always been.

    I don’t think that it is dangerous for Christians to have collection as long as they keep from obsessing and can resist spending too much time and money into it. If it starts to consume a persons life then it is better to throw them all away and stop engaging in such games. Matthew 18:7-9 NIV says “(v7)Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (v8) If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into eternal fire. (v9) And if your eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell.” I used to justify my obsession by saying things like “the game is good at teaching strategy, logic, and reason skills.” Well the same benefits can probably more so be obtained from games such as chess which is inexpensive and requires less time and so the benefit from trading card games do not out weigh the amount of my energy and focus that it takes away from my relationship with Christ. If I want the benefits that trading card/collection games offer then I can play something that requires less “soul investment.”

    This is true for me, but may not be true for other Christians who play these games. In fact chess can later become an idol if someone obsesses to much into it as well. It is the task of each of us to search our heart for the answers about the effect of our personal hobbies on our relationship with Christ.

    • Rebekah Hiatt on March 6, 2020 at 5:29 am

      This helps loads. Thank you for sharing! Been having a book light novel collection going and I may have to reconsider getting rid of most of them. ???? It’s gonna be hard.

  8. desa mari on October 16, 2015 at 4:44 am

    Hi. I googled “idolatry vs anime (addiction)” and came across this article.
    For a backdrop, I spend much of my spare time (off work) watching anime, reading manga and/ or planning what new anime-related items to buy.
    (And, of course, I am spending money for these things.)
    I am much concerned now of my addiction to anime and how it might affect my relationship with God.
    I can say that my addiction can be called idolatry, I admit that, and even if I try, I keep on coming back to how addicted I was before and sometimes gets even worse.
    You know the feeling when after a long time of enduring, you would not be able to contain the thirst for anime and when you start watching one episode (as you have planned) you would find yourself addicted again and wanting for more?
    Jeez~
    That has always been my problem.

  9. GLFighter on September 22, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    Hi, while I may not be a follower of God and I have not experienced grace of God yet, amybe due to my pride or simply my laziness (please, do not condemn me), I absolutely agree with you. Whether you have a faith or not, letting becoming your hobby your idol is dangerous.
    I remeber being obssesed with collecting all comicbooks and when I was spending extertraordinary amount of money on it.
    Yet for some reason, I have not found any hapiness in it. I was constantly tired of trying finding rare pieces which I only tried to find to impress other with my collection. So basicly, I was buying things I didn’t need, for money I didn’t had, to impress people I didn’t liked.
    I have abandoned this style of life. Do I sitll read and buy comics, collect figures, just manny other geeks? Sure, but I’m trying to be less and less controled by my hobby. I’m rarely buying expensive stuff (the best record is less 70 dollars spended on my hobby per year) and I’m trying to have self-control over myself. After all, these things, while fun and all, should not eb in control. I started to prefer simplier things like rather having fun, hapiness and good memories on trips with my friend, that materialistic possesion, which while nice, will not make me happy…unleast not entirely. And giving money to people who need it more than I do, certainly helps too.

  10. Michael M. on September 14, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Great stuff here Rob. I agree, my hobbies that take up my time that I’ve had to stop doing have even been music to anime to video games. I would spend hours upon hours whether playing a game, watching an anime, or making my playlists “perfect” for when I’m driving or out and about. Thanks for writing this, and I will keep myself open and aware of anything that is taking my time from God in worship/prayer/study of His word.

  11. Annalyn on September 13, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    I appreciate this post, and actually, I was just reflecting on a similar topic in my journal. I’m reading Augustine’s Confessions for class, and he seems very single-minded in his approach to God, and examines everything he enjoys, to make sure he isn’t pursuing it unduly–including smells and tastes! It will take me a while to process his apparently radical approach. Not sure how he’d feel about these aspects of geekdom. I don’t collect figures (my entertainment/hobby budget is slim), but there are other things I have to watch out for. I ask myself, “Do I treasure and worship God as I should? Or have other things taken precedence?” Usually, the “other things” I have to confess about aren’t a single hobby like anime-watching. Instead, I realize I’ve pursued too much passing pleasure in general, including not only anime, but also attention from the internet on my blog/Tumblr/Twitter/etc., as well as any low-energy distraction that keeps me and my brain out of service–to God or to anyone else.

  12. Nas Helewa on September 11, 2014 at 4:10 am

    I’ve struggled with this for years. Close to 40, to be exact. As a lifelong Christian AND geek, with a definite predilection for collecting, I’ve certainly gone overboard more times than I’d like to admit, often being convicted by the Holy Spirit that my time and treasure are being misspent. You make great points – Do I then try to “pay” for my time wasted by somehow being more devotional for a season, just to justify my personal preferences? I’ve done that – The HS doesn’t fall for it.

    I think you hit the nail on the head – Listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Creativity and imagination are good things, and for myself, I find that my collections help me enjoy creativity. I collect action figures (GI Joe and He-Man and others) and each character has a story, which is what I find most appealing. I do think that age and continued prayer on the matter yields results in the heart, and I do believe it when we are told “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” As I realize the impermanence of “the world” and learn to trust God’s promises more and more, it becomes easier and easier to have a healthy relationship with my collections, and even begin to realize that they don’t hold the same appeal as they once did, which I thought would be a sad day. It isn’t however, when the old appeal is replaced with a peace, and greater love for God.

    Ultimately, can we say we are like Paul, who said, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” That secret, of course, was his peace in Christ. We should pray that when and if brought to that day when our collections are gone or lost, or we see a need that must be met which may limit our own pleasures (As we know them, in this case, collecting…), we too can know his “secret”, and be content.

  13. Drew Koehler on September 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    A very convincing article Rob! Thank you! I too collect things and can see the dangers. I especially liked what you said about the money you spend. That was very profound!!!

  14. Casey Covel on September 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I’m a collector, mainly of videogame figurines, and this is certainly a temptation that’s easy to fall into. It’s a time-consuming hobby, especially when you’re searching for rare pieces. I’ve found that one way to keep it out of “idol” territory is to limit your spending budget each month; for example, spend a limit of $50 per month on figurines. Especially with eBay, it can be tempting to snatch up killer deals when you see them. Unfortunately, that can become an obsession and hurt your budget, too.

    I think a lot has to do with “heart-attitude.” I like the example you made about spending 30-minutes in God’s Word and having it set the mood for your entire day. If that’s what you feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to do, and still feel free to collect and enjoy, that’s fine. I think it’s important to pay attention to the warnings of the Holy Spirit, though. If something feels overboard–like we’re getting in too deep–it will always tell us.

    That picture of the birthday celebration does seem rather overboard, though there’s a good chance it’s done out of humor or simply self-acknowledged nerdiness. In the past, I’ve hosted entire nerd-themed days featuring food, entertainment, and activities based on a particular franchise. It’s a lot of fun to do, especially around notable, franchise-based dates. That being said, it’s all in good fun, much like a special holiday. I think if you’re partaking in such activities out of utter infatuation with a character or franchise, it might be time to re-examine your standing with God in order to make sure he hasn’t taken second priority.

    • Rob M. on September 10, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      Yeah, I know I can’t say with any honesty that I know the true intentions of the person doing that. It just made me think of an offering, with all the figurines and the cake in the middle.

  15. Shawn Bain on September 10, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Great article, Rob!

    I do collect, and I appreciate this insight into how to keep my collecting from entering idol territory. It can be very easy to do.

    • Rob M. on September 10, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Thanks, Shawn! While I do suspect that I have a gift for teaching, I don’t know that I really consider myself knowledgeable enough or adequate enough to truly lead people away from idolatry. As you said, it can be easy to slip in to, and I wonder if many of us don’t do it without even realizing it. Like I said, I don’t know when something truly slips into ” idol” territory–the article covers what I think are some more obvious points, but when we get into some more obscure things (such as being daily committed to God and not your collection, but feeling more emotional excitement towards your collection as opposed to your time with God), I’d be hard-pressed to make a judgement call as to whether that’s idolatry or not.

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