Friday, May 1, 2015

Counterfeit Gods - The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope That Matters by Timothy Keller

This is one of the best books I’ve read recently. I’ve learnt so much about myself and about God through this gem by Timothy Keller. It’s BRILLIANT if I may say so. I really gotta thank my friend Chevonne who lent this book to me after I spotted it on her Instagram account.

Well, this book is about the idols in our lives and how they unwittingly enslave us even without us knowing it. Things like love, success, money and power can all become idols if we are not careful. 

We can’t get rid of idols. That won’t work. Another idol will just take its place. The key is to replace it with Jesus Christ. When our focus is on God, the first commandment is fulfilled - “You shall have no other gods before Me” and that is the solution to it all.

The part that impacted me the greatest was when he used the example of Jonah to illustrate how even when we claim to revere God, we could really be worshipping something else. Jonah was a prophet, someone who was supposed to do the will of God. But when God asked him to preach salvation to Nineveh, he went the opposite way and tried to escape from doing so. He had idolatry of a complex kind. You can read the book to find out more.

Keller provides in his last chapter, 4 helpful ways to identify our idols. They are listed down below:

#1 Our imagination - What do we think most about. Not just an occasional daydream, but what do our thoughts naturally gravitate to? A new car? How to climb the corporate ladder?

#2 What we spend on - Where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. If we find ourselves needing to exert a lot of self-control in our spending on certain items, there’s a big clue what we value.

#3 For those who profess a faith in God, what is your real, daily functional salvation - How do you respond to unanswered prayers and frustrated hopes? And I quote, “If you ask for something that you don’t get, you may become sad and disappointed. Then you go on. Hey life’s not over. Those are not your functional masters. But when you pray and work for something and you don’t get it and you respond with explosive anger or deep despair, then you may have found your real god.”

#4 Look at your most uncontrollable emotions - “Look for your idols at the bottom of your most painful emotions, especially those that never seem to lift and that drive you to do things you know are wrong. If you are angry, ask, ‘Is there something here too important to me, something I must have at all costs?’ Do the same thing with strong fear or despair and guilt. Ask yourself, ‘Am I so scared, because something in my life is being threatened that I think it a necessity when it is not? Am I so down on myself because I have lost or failed at something that I think is a necessity when it is not?’

The solution is to replace each of our idols with Jesus Christ. Only He can satisfy. Only He will.

I recommend this to every Christian who might otherwise not spot the invisible idols in their lives. I also recommend this to every non-Christian who would benefit in learning how money, sex, success, and power would ultimately not satisfy.

Go get your copy today!

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