Our book club just recently finished the book, Counterfeit Gods by Tim Keller. Keller gives his definition of an idol and a counterfeit god, “What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you only what God can give… A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living.”
Keller identifies major categories of counterfeit gods such as happiness, love, money, success, and power. He also puts emphasis on deeper idols such as power, approval, comfort and control.
So, how do we identify what is capturing our trust and attention other than Christ? Keller gives some helpful diagnostic questions.
Look at imagination:
What are you daydreaming about?
Where do your thoughts effortlessly go?
What do you habitually think about to get joy and comfort in the privacy of your own heart?
Look at how you spend your money:
What you overspend on is often an uncontrollable idol.
Look at what you are really living for, your functional savior:
How do you respond to unanswered prayers or frustrated hopes? What, when you don’t get it, makes you sad and disappointed?
When are the time when, you don’t get something, that you respond with explosive anger or deep despair?
Look at your most uncontrollable emotions
When angry ask, “Is there something here too important for me, something I must have at all costs?
Ask the same thing with fear, despair and guilt
Why are overworking for something?
Keller explains the source of our only hope in the battle with counterfeit gods, “The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is to turn back to the true one. The living God, who revealed himself both at Mount Sinai and on the Cross, is the only Lord who, if you find him, can truly fulfill you, and, if you fail him, can truly forgive you.”
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