I don’t know when or why I ordered the book Gods at War by Kyle Idleman from the library, but it arrived two days ago. I am only on page 24, and have had to stop, ponder, and discuss parts of the book with my husband a few times already. It’s one of those books—one requiring digestion and prayer.
Gods at War is about idols, mini-gods we pursue in our lives.
Coincidentally, I am reading next year’s curriculum books for my children and started D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths last week. The opening paragraph of this book reads:
“In olden times, when men still worshiped ugly idols, there lived in the land of Greece a folk of shepherds and herdsmen who cherished light and beauty. They did not worship dark idols like their neighbors, but created instead their own beautiful, radiant gods.”
Most of us have at least heard of a few of the gods D’Aulaire writes about: Zeus, Pandora, Aphrodite, etc.
As I read both books, the parallels became apparent. The Greek gods symbolize the gods we worship today. There is Athena, the goddess of wisdom, Aphrodite, goddess of love, Nike, spirit of victory, Apollo, god of light & music, Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and Dionysus, god of wine. We don’t worship Aphrodite, but do we worship love or sex? In other words, do we allow the pursuit of love (or victory, wisdom, food, or alcohol) to become the reason for our existence? Do our actions suggest that our real god or gods are love, wisdom, victory, food, or alcohol and not the One True God?
If those don’t apply to you, consider Hephaestus, the god of smiths and fires, who is hard-working and peace-loving. Pandora, whose insatiable curiosity caused her to release Greed, Vanity, Slander, and Envy. Metis, goddess of prudence. Hera, the jealous wife of Zeus. And Zeus, the all-powerful lord of the universe, who is controlling and conniving. I have to admit to bowing down to a few of these gods more than once in my lifetime (read: in the past few days).
Mix in a bit of Eris, spirit of strife, Ares, cruel god of war, moody and violent Poseidon, and Hades, lord of the dead, whom mortals fear, and you have a recipe for disaster. This family does not get along! They do not live peacefully together. Zeus overthrew his father’s throne and constantly looks over his shoulder to see if one of his children will do the same to him. Talk about gods at war!
Similarly, there cannot be more than one god in our lives. Like the Greek gods, they cannot play nice. They are in competition with each other, battling for control. It creates dissension, unrest, and uneasiness.
“When we hear God say, ‘You will have no other gods before me,’ we think of it as a hierarchy; God is always in first place. But there are no places. God isn’t interested in competing against others or being first among many.
God will not be part of any hierarchy.
He wasn’t saying ‘before me’ as in ‘ahead of me.’ A better understanding of the Hebrew word translated ‘before me’ is ‘in my presence.’”
I must admit I hadn’t looked at it from this perspective before.
So what hierarchy have we placed God on?
What other gods are battling for our attention?
My curiosity is peaked, my ears are perked, and my knees are bowed—to God, the Creator of the Universe. In the midst of my hectic schedule, I have been feeling frazzled, stressed, and agitated, an indication that something is amiss. I am ready (at least today) to expose the false idols and put God in His rightful place. What about you?