Just finished Tim Keller’s new book Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters. I read this in prep for my talk on the Lord’s prayer. I know that it doesn’t have anything to do with the Lord’s prayer, but I believe the Lord’s prayer shows the idols that we have and what we hope things in our life will do and the Lord’s prayer shows the response to those things and that God is the only hope to answer those longings.
According to Keller, “idolatry is the most common sin committed today.” The funny thing is that most everyone would say they don’t have a problem with idolatry. I’ve never met with someone who confessed to having an idol problem. It is so common that we don’t see it.
An idol is “anything that we look to for things that only God can give.” The reality is that idols are often not bad things. Some of them are, but by and large they are good things that we make into ultimate things. Keller said, “Idolatry is always the the reason we ever do anything wrong.”
Idols can be kids, our jobs, dreams, our money, retirement, friendships, sports teams, political parties. The list goes on.
What Keller does is show what the idols of our culture are, what personal idols we have, what physical, spiritual idols we have. He then shows how they become idols, the hope and faith that we put into those things. How good, everyday things become ultimate things that we stake our whole future on and the hopelessness of that.
He ends with what to do with them. For me, this was the only area that I felt was lacking. After spending 150 pages on what idols are and identifying them, he spent less than 30 pages on what to do. I personally would have liked to have seen more in this area, the application side.
Regardless, this is a fantastic book and one worth reading, thinking and praying through and working through what your idols are and how that affects your relationship with God.
The reality of idolatry is that it is the first sin. We do not sin without the sin of idolatry, this is why, according to Martin Luther, the 10 commandments start with, “You should no other gods before me.” We have to break the first commandment to break the other 9.
Not sure what your idols are, here is a list of questions to work through to discover your idols.