Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Gods at War

Not too long ago, I read a book called Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman. It took me quite a while to read that book because it challenged me to look deeply at my relationship with Jesus and to analyze my motives. It helped me to understand the difference between a fan and a follower, someone who admires Jesus and someone who strives to be His disciple and to live like Him. When I saw Idleman had a new book, Gods at War, I knew I wanted to read it. His message is again profound and challenging. Idleman makes the claim that Christians (and non-Christians) are idolators. We may not even realize it, and we may try to justify it, but there are many gods in our lives that take the place of God or that draw our attention away from Him. The Ten Commandments tell us we are to have no gods before God, and that He needs to reign in our hearts, minds, and souls. Unlike pagans in the Bible, we do not create idols to worship. We do not have statues in our houses that we bow down to. We do not pray to material items we own. But does that mean we do not have idols? This is the question Idleman addresses. He begins by explaining what an idol truly is. An idol is anything that takes away from our worshipping of God. It is anything that replaces His importance in our lives. To see if we have idols in our lives, we need to honestly examine how we spend our time, how we spend our money, the people we spend time with, and the beliefs that motivate and drive us. When we really stop to think about these things, there are more possible idols in our lives that we want to admit to. For example, if I say that God is the priority in my life, but I only spend a few minutes of my day in His Word or in prayer, but I spend 10-12 hours working, is He really the priority? Or do I depend on my work to bring me security and satisfaction? Idleman says that working is not a sin, of course. We are called to do our part and allow God to do His. However, if our work takes the place of our relationship with God, or if we look to our work to be our satisfaction and security in this life, then it becomes an idol. In the same way, Idleman talks about other possible idols in our lives: food, sex, entertainment, money, achievement, family, romance and our own selves. These are things that God puts in our lives as gifts, and as long as we see and understand them that way, we can be in right relationship with God. But if these things become an end unto themselves, we are in danger of making them idols. Idleman's style is easy to understand and follow. As you read, you feel like you are talking with a friend. He shares personal stories to help us relate to each of these possible idols, and he connects these stories with biblical truths and Scripture. Ultimately, he wants us to understand that life is about God, and everything we have comes from Him, with the purpose of drawing us to Him. This book leads me back to God's Word with a new outlook. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. 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.”