In my semiotics (the study of signs as communication) class a couple years ago, we defined idols as, “anything that is valued as a sign above what it stands for.” Put simply, any time we give a good object, action or person more stock than what God meant it, we are worshipping it in place of God. God’s good gifts easily become idols in our lives. We even discussed how the Bible often becomes an idol for Christians—how often do we revere the book without actually doing what it says? After all, the power is that it is God’s Word to us. I found myself pondering this conversation often as I read Pete Wilson’s Empty Promises.
At first I was a little skeptical to read Empty Promises, mostly because I feared it would just heap guilt on me for my spiritual shortcomings. Of course, this was a silly fear, (probably an indication of which idols I struggle with) and I quite enjoyed the book. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredibly convicting. Wilson focuses on seven idols that he commonly sees people struggle with in our culture: achievement, approval, power, money, religion, beauty, dreams . . .but it’s a very real conversations. Wilson acknowledges that he struggles with many of the idols himself. He doesn’t just lay them out, either. He gives clues that you might be struggling with these idols. He talks about steps to take to turn back to God in these areas.
One of the biggest things that I appreciated about the book was that Wilson clearly states that idolatry is a human condition. We all struggle with putting things before God, and it is a battle that we will fight until we go Home. The thing we must do is continually allow God to reveal these areas to us, and continually be willing to repent of them. These words were encouraging and challenging to me.
I would definitely recommend this book. I think it would be a great one to go through with a friend or small group for some genuine and edifying discussions.
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