Who is your Jesus?

Photo Credit: houbi via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: houbi via Compfight cc

I was catching up on the Story and was reading through the chapter that included the story of the Golden Calf. I think I’ve heard and read the story a hundred times and seen it portrayed year after year in the Ten Commandments movie, but this time through I was particularly struck by on verse. “He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’”

These are your gods, who brought you up out of Egypt. Here they are at the base of the mountain where God is talking to Moses not too long after God brought them up out of Egypt and they are proclaiming that this calf among other gods brought them out of Egypt. They saw with their own eyes what God did for them. They walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. They could see and were afraid of what was happening up on the mountain. In spite of all this, they chose to make their own gods.
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Fighting the idols in our lives

_240_360_Book.804.coverOriginally posted on my former blog Life, The Universe and Everything.

If I asked you which of the Ten Commandments gave you the most trouble, you probably would admit to the second commandment. In Exodus 20:4 God commands, “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.” I don’t think that this is a common problem in America today. I very rarely, if ever, see actual idols that were made to worship. There is, however, still an idolatry problem in our world today. Kyle Idleman meets this problem head on in his new book gods at war. He argues that while we aren’t setting up statues or other images and bowing down to them, we’re elevating people, ideas, and objects in our lives to a place higher than God. Idleman writes, “Anything at all can become an idol once it becomes a substitute for God in our lives.” Whenever we make a choice that goes against God or favors someone or something over God, we have become idolaters.

Gods at war is broken down into four sections. The first section defines what he means by idolatry. Idleman describes how we are in a battle with the “gods” of this world. These gods are fighting for our attention and drawing us away from Christ. The idols are not the same anymore. Unlike the Israelites who were following after Baal, Ashteroth, and Molech, we worship the gods of pleasure, power, and love. Essentially, though, we are doing the exact same thing as the Israelites. Instead of following God and pursuing obedience to him, we give our obedience and worship to something other than god. Worshipping Baal has the same consequence as worshiping love. The last three sections explore the ways we worship in the “temples” of power, pleasure, and love. Idleman explores how we devote ourselves to gods like money, success, food, entertainment, romance, and even family. Each of chapter in these sections (except for the last one) ends with questions to help the reader identify the idols that may be in their life.

I really appreciate what Kyle Idleman has done in gods at war. When I wrote my thesis on faith, I came to the same basic conclusions about where we put our faith. Ultimately if we are not trusting and seeking after God with our lives, then we have given something that isn’t God the position of God in our hearts. I think a lot of people need to hear this today. The subject matter, however, is very similar to Timothy Keller’s book Counterfeit Gods. If you’ve read Keller’s book, this book is not going to much different. One thing Idleman does different is his book does a great job of helping you reevaluate the values you are giving to different people and things in your life. The reflective questions that appear in the book help you take this step. I don’t think most of us realize how we have let something that might be good turn into a false god and rule over our lives. It does not, however, explore in depth in any one of the false god’s that it discusses. For that reason, I believe this book would be best used in a group study since it comes with questions already imbedded in the text. Going through this book with a small group would allow someone to analyze each “god” a little more in depth, there are also online resources available.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”