Book Review: Gods At War

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Gods At War, by Kyle Idleman

I've been familiar with Kyle Idleman since he began as a young preacher. I was in college, and his dad was the president where I attended school. So in one of those strange, disconnected ways, I feel like I kind of "know" him- if only through stories his dad told and from hearing him preach every now and then. At any rate, I was excited to read his latest book, especially because I appreciate his honesty and the integrity I know his family upholds in their lives. 

Gods At War is one of my favorite books (other than Bread & Wine) that I've read this year. Why does it stick out so much among the rest of my recent reads? Plain and simple: its relevant. Even if you think its not relevant to you personally, it is. The basic premise of the book is this: the true issue beneath all of our problems is idolatry. When we talk about the sins that affect us and rule our lives, darkening our hearts, they can all be boiled down to the core issue of idolatry. Upon reading this in the first chapter, I was a little skeptical (that's actually the title of Chapter One: Idolatry is the Issue). Could it really be that simple?  How does every struggle I face, every recurring sin that plagues me, possibly all boil down to idolatry. Afterall, isn't that something that only ancient people did... like when they crafted cows out of gold or carved crocodile-men out of wood? Surely something for ancient Egyptians and not modern-day me.

In his introduction, Idleman says: 

Idolatry seems so primitive. So irrelevant. Is a book on idolatry even necessary? Why not a book about rain dancing and witch doctors? 
And yet idolatry is the number one issue in the Bible, and that should raise caution signals for us. Idolatry comes into every book... In all of Judaism, it was one of only four sins to which the death penalty was attached.  
Seeing my faith and life through the lens of idolatry has rebuilt my relationship with God from the ground up...As we look at life through this lens, it becomes clear that there's a war going on. The gods are at war, and their strength is not to be underestimated. These gods clash for the throne of your heart, and much is at stake. Everything about me, everything I do, every relationship I have, everything I hope or dream or wish to become depends up what god wins that war.

This book covers every possible source of idolatry I can think of--and many I would not have ever imagined. Idleman breaks it down into three categories: The Temple of Pleasure (featuring the gods of food, sex and entertainment), The Temple of Power (highlighting the gods of success, money and achievement), and The Temple of Love (exposing the gods of romance, family and me). As I was reading through the first group of gods in the Temple of Pleasure, I have to be honest- none of them screamed at me with conviction. I gleaned some valuable truths and new perspectives on Bible passages I'd read before, but nothing really hit home. As I started reading through the Temple of Power, I began to think (ironically, arrogantly and erroneously) that maybe I didn't have an idolatry problem after all.  Ha! That was when I came to the chapter about the god of achievement. Everything in this chapter bored deep into my heart, revealing what was true all along... I do have an idolatry problem. And to say I don't would be to suggest that I am free from all sin, which, as we all know of this fallen world, just simply is not true.   

In reading about the god of achievement, I was convicted with the story of Mary & Martha. Its not that what Martha was doing was bad- she was preparing and serving her Lord. But what Mary chose- worship- was better. Idleman goes on to talk about the git-r-done nature of our Western world, and I have to confess, I get caught up in that daily. I realized through reading this book, an idol doesn't have to be big and ugly (like lust), or even shiny and attractive (like money). It can just as easily be a daily checklist that is completed or a kitchen that always stays clean or a perfectly manicured lawn. (Though my idol of achievement is definitely not the last one!) Idleman writes, "Obviously there is nothing wrong with any of these achievements; in fact, these achievements can be acts of worship that glorify God. But when our lives are all about getting things done, we can find that there is not much room for God. Instead, our approach to worshipping God can be checking off a box on our to-do list labeled 'Go to Church.'"

I would venture to say that this book will hit home for any person who picks it up. In the weeks since I've finished this book, I have looked at life- my struggles and the struggles of my friends- and can definitely see how the core issue can be boiled down to idolatry. That's not to simplify or minimize the sin, of course. But seeing the heart of the matter for what it truly is a great place to start in surrendering it to God-- the ONLY one worthy of our worship.

You can purchase this book right now on Amazon. Its on sale now for only $8.99!!!  (Usually $14.99)

I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com  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 
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