Book Review: Gods at War by Kyle Idleman
“Idolatry isn’t just one of many sins; rather it’s the one great sin that all others come from”
(p. 22). So says Kyle Idleman in his new book Gods at War
. Mr. Idleman says that, even though we may not bow down and worship actual carved images and such, we may still have idols that we worship; idols we may not even realize we are worshiping. At the end of each chapter, there is included a set of questions for determining if the reader is worshiping a false god or not. There is also a section called “Jesus, my portion” which, following the axiom ‘Idols are defeated not by being removed, but by being replaced’, shows the reader how all his or her needs are truly met only in Jesus Christ
Worship God Only
Mr. Idleman also clarifies the phrase God spoke to His people, “you shall have no other gods before me” when he writes, “He wasn’t saying “before me” as in “ahead of me.” A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated “before me” in “in my presence” (p. 23). Therefore, the gist of this phrase is saying that God will not tolerate the worship of anything other than Himself. It’s not a matter of the priority of the things we worship in our lives; but rather, that we should worship nothing at all other than Him.
No Other Gods
The false gods Mr. Idleman points out, although there may be many more, are the gods of: food, sex, entertainment, success, money, achievement, romance, family, and, ultimately, the god of me. Mr. Idleman writes, “…our lives begin to take the shape of what we care about most. We each make the choice to worship, and then at some point we discover that the choice makes us. The object of your worship will determine your future and define your life. It’s the one choice that all other choices are motivated by” (p. 60). Let us look at the false gods about which Mr. Idleman warns us.
Many today, especially in affluent America, are overweight. For many, it is because they find comfort in food from their uneasiness and struggles. Mr. Idleman reminds us that Jesus is the Bread of Life and we can only truly find peace by entering a faith relationship with Him.
Mr. Idleman reminds us that sex, in itself, is not bad (after all, God created it). God designed it to be a beautiful thing between a husband and wife. However, he writes that sex can become an idol when, “…the gift [becomes] more important than the giver. The beauty was not meant to be so much in the thing itself, but the love that brought it about…Sex is beautiful until it loses its spiritual content” (p. 96). Sex, or anything else, can become an idol when it is not implemented as God designed it.
Entertainment is quickly becoming the idol of choice in the United States.
Entertainment is quickly becoming the idol of choice in the United States. Technology has given us more electronic toys, television and movies are continually becoming more and more of a visual feast, and the pace of our lives is increasing due, in part, to the ease with which we can now access media from almost any place. For many, the continuous sensory onslaught prevents any thought of God, His lordship, our sinfulness, or our eternal destination from ever being heard. The constant din of our media-saturated environment muffles God’s call to our hearts. For all the good that technology has given us, there is also a high price to pay when we allow it to become the focus of our lives.
Success, Money, and Achievement
Mr. Idleman points out that it is too easy to become dependent on money; we see it as a sign of achievement or status, and, for many, it is what we rely on for our sense of happiness and well-being. Not that money is bad, we all need it to pay for the stuff we need, but that money can too quickly become what we depend on instead of God. After saying that many find in money their source of security, significance, and satisfaction, Mr. Idleman tells us that all these things can only truly be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, “He provides us with security because he never leaves us or forsakes us. He provides us with significance because our identity and value are found in his love. He provides us with satisfaction because our souls were made for him” (p. 167).
Romance and Family
Although God is love
, and the Bible clearly shows us that the family is an important, God-ordained, unit, there is still a danger of placing one’s love for one’s family before one’s love for God. Mr. Idleman tells us, “Worship is for God alone. He must be our deepest love—actually the source of every other love. For only when we love God properly can e begin to love others properly”
(p. 209). Therefore, if we want to love our spouses and families as we should, we must first love God as we should.
A major motivating force fueling the sin of idolatry is the ‘god of me’. This is the self-centered attitude that puts self on the throne of our lives and gives no, or at least a limited, place for God. However, the Bible repeatedly tells us that God is to be the center of our lives. The original sin in the garden of Eden was motivated by a reliance on self instead of relying on God and His promises. This was the original idolatry…and it has only gotten worse since then.
Mr. Idleman’s book is a fantastic wake-up call for everyone to take stock of their lives. The book forces us to reevaluate our priorities to see if we have allowed anything to become more important than our worship of God. In the end, the book calls us to make sure that God is on the throne of our lives and, if He is not, to do whatever it takes to rearrange our lives so that He is.
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Idleman, Kyle. Gods at War. Zondervan, 2013