Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The True and Living God

In light of the recent Olympics and current Paralympics, I thought a review of this book would be appropriate.

At times, I found myself getting disappointed in the performance of the Australian athletes during the Olympics.  Great Britain (the country I most wanted to beat in the medal count) did so well.  I read that the British government has been pumping stacks of money into sport and it was obviously paying dividends.  When it was suggested that the Australian government do the same, I was all for it.  Yep, our athletes need more funding.  We need more gold medals.

Then I realised just how screwed up my thinking was.  What does that show about my priorities?  Success?  Fame?  Sport is a fantastic gift from God that we should enjoy, but money is more desperately needed in other areas.

The True and Living God by Kim Hawtrey is one of those books where you go, Yeah, yeah, I KNOW all this.  We KNOW we have idolatrous hearts.  We KNOW we have forsaken Jesus for the man-made, false gods of this world.  The trouble is that we all need its message to seep down into our hearts.

The book examines the passages in Genesis where Adam and Eve first rejected God and how that is the root of all idolatry.  In my opinion, the best chapter in the book is Chapter 3 of Part 1 which is called Modern rivals to God.  This really fleshes out which idols permeate Australian society and Christian culture.  Idolatry is subtle and we often need each other to point out our blind spots.  This doesn't mean that we can't enjoy things in this life, or that we should have an attitude which despises God's good gifts.  It doesn't mean that if someone enjoys golf then they have made it an idol.  But too often we say, Oh we don't worship statues, so we're ok.  Things like money, family, relationships, others' perceptions of us, TV, career, and sport can also be idols.

As Duncan and I are about to step into parenthood for the first time, it was good to re-read the section starting on page 76 entitled Worship of Family: The noblest form of atheism.  Too often in churches, the 'family way' is promoted as the 'Christian way'.  After all, how can sweet as pie families be anything but Christian?  So often I hear Christian parents say, "My children come first."  This section is a rebuke to that notion.  Jesus warns us that an absolute and overriding devotion to family as our 'everything' can actually keep us out of heaven if it displaces God from first place in our lives (page 77).  A single Christian I know said she was shocked when a Christian couple she knew separated and later divorced.  She told me how this made her realise she had placed marriage on a pedestal as if being married would ensure ultimate happiness and an end to life's problems.

I've also realised that I can be tempted to idolise other people's lives, even some celebrities.  When someone I saw as 'good' does something wrong, I feel like I've been ripped off in some way.  Their halo has slipped when I should never have been seeing them as wearing a halo in the first place.  There is a difference between being thankful for someone's example and 'following' them.

The True and Living God provides a lot to chew over so it's worth reading slowly. 

This book is available from the Matthias Media Australian store here.

There is also a US store here.

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