Author Kyle Idleman is Teaching Pastor at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. Gods at War is his second book, preceded by the best-selling Not a Fan. Pastor Idleman begins Gods at War by noting that there are a thousand or so references to idolatry in the Bible. In contrast to primitive “graven images”, today’s gods may seem so ordinary that we don’t recognize them. Yet, the author asserts, such recognition is critical because these gods are at war for control of our hearts. Modern gods such as success, money, and achievement only become idols when we serve, live, and sacrifice for them. As Martin Luther once observed, idolatry is the one great sin from which all others flow. Pastor Idleman adds that “the heart of the issue is an issue of the heart.”
All of us will choose to worship something. We’re hard-wired to worship. Philosopher Peter Kreeft asserts: “The opposite of theism isn’t atheism, it’s idolatry.” More than our ancestors, the author states, we expect our daily work to be pleasurable. Yet inside the temple of pleasure, gifts are turned into gods. All too easily God’s gifts end up being His greatest competition- and the more intensely we chase pleasure, the less likely we are to catch it. Until God is our greatest pleasure, all life’s pleasures will lead to emptiness.
The gods of power also create significant distractions for us. The gods of power work from one shared premise: that we can take care of ourselves and handle all our needs. We may grow to be so wrapped up with the desire to achieve that we miss divine moments when God wants our attention. Achievement comes to equal our identity. All of these gods are a prelude to the god we’ll confront multiple times every single day- the god of me. As broken cisterns, the living water of Jesus is the only cure for our thirst.