Counterfeit Gods

Tim Keller’s latest gem, Counterfeit Gods has been rocking my world the past few weeks. I’m only now able to begin to fully process and write a little bit about it.

The idol of success cannot be just expelled, it must be replaced. The human heart’s desire for a particular valuable object may be conquered, but its need to have some such object is unconquerable. How can we break our heart’s fixation on doing “some great thing” in order to heal ourselves of our sense of inadequacy, in order to give our lives meaning?

Only when we see what Jesus, our great Suffering Servant, has done for us will we finally understand why God’s salvation does not require us to do “some great thing.” We don’t have to do it because Jesus has. That’s why we can “just wash.” Jesus did it all for us, and he loves us–that is how we know our existence is justified. when we believe in what he accomplished for us with our minds, and when we are moved by what he did for us in our hearts, it begins to kill off the addiction, the need for success at all costs (Keller, 93-94).

It’s hard for me to rest. Even on vacation, I long to justify my existence in a myriad of ways. As I push to finish my course work this week,  my prayer is for God to show me how to replace the gods of performance, self-reliance, and achievement with something more tangible, more lasting, and more full.

4 responses to “Counterfeit Gods

  1. Addicted to success. What an interesting way to put it. I think that is spot on!

    I’m wondering how Keller would advise re: celebrating successes. Or, how he’d suggest we understand our successes in such a way that they do not define us.

    So many contemporary churches/communities of faith, etc., even if they don’t intend to, are success-oriented. Celebrity preachers, number of programs, theological distinctions, etc. Churches are often places where beautiful people, wealthy people, married people, musical people, smart people, gifted people, etc are held in higher esteem than others – just like in general culture. It often seems that we gain entrance into community by our gifts…or the gifts that are determined most valuable by the community.

    The question I have been wrestling with lately has been how to foster communities in which gifts are encouraged to be shared and seen as glimpses of God’s grace without being turned into merits. How to rightly identify with our gifts.

    It seems that gratitude is a good starting point….

    • And one more thing…

      how churches can be places where people are not celebrated for their gifts, but because they are children of God who have been transformed by the grace of God – regardless of beauty, pocketbook, relationship status, talent, intelligence, etc.

      If we are really being the Body, what does it look like? What should it look like? How is “success” defined in the Body and what is its role.

      Okay I’m stopping myself now.

  2. I think when we truly understand any success we have as gifts and not something we have done by our own merits we will begin to see this beautiful picture that you describe, Anna. This sounds obvious, but think of the way we give and receive praise; it reinforces ideas that we have, on our own, achieved something.

    We need to change our language surrounding success to give God the glory if we wish to change they way we give value to members of our community.

    Great comments, and I agree that this is a problem in our churches.

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