I’m back with another book review, this time on Counterfeit Gods (The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters) by Timothy Keller. Keller’s wisdom and biblical understanding helps to identify the idols in our own heart and replace empty promises with hope in Christ. Without revealing too much from the book, here are some insights which stood out to me.
When many of us hear the word idolatry, we immediately conjure up pictures of primitive people bowing down before statues; however idolatry can be much more than that. An idol is anything more important to you than God—anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give. It can have such a controlling position in your heart that you spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. The obvious idols are money, sex and power. But Keller points out it can also be family and children, career and success, peer approval, romantic relationship [the list is endless]. We quickly begin to realise that our contemporary society is not fundamentally different from the ancient ones we read in the Bible.
The final chapter [Seven – The End of Counterfeit Gods] was by far my favourite. Before this point, the book looks at the issue of idolatry throughout the Bible and exposes our idols. It reveals how we fall victim to the subtle temptation to take something that is good in itself and elevate it above all other things in the search for security and meaning, stunting our spiritual growth and development. So the final part reminds us that there’s hope—that the idols currently taking precedence in our life can [must] be replaced.
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.Colossians 3:1-5
“Setting the mind and heart on things above” where “your life is hidden with Christ in God” means appreciation, rejoicing, and resting in what Jesus has done for you. It entails joyful worship, a sense of God’s reality in prayer. Jesus must become more beautiful than your imagination, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace counterfeit gods