“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3– – – Commandment number one.
I need a God that transcends.
I need a God that out-trumps everything else.
I need a God that instructs me that nothing matters more than where I stand with Him.
I need a God that holds me accountable.
I need a God that offers what I could never have on my own.
I need no other God.
Our culture….our age…has lost faith that religion can make a difference. This seems especially true for those who examine and evaluate the Christian faith. To many of those outside Christianity, we appear not to be worshiping God but a system of thought. A construct of morality and ethics. For many of those observers, they see the form but not the Force.
We proudly display who we are as God’s people but need to do a more adequate job of revealing to the world the God who is at the center of it all. I’m not altogether sure how we go about doing this in a more adequate way but I believe it is a worthwhile pursuit. We don’t have a cloud by day or pillar of fire by night to show the evidence of God’s presence. We don’t have a gold overlaid ark or richly appointed tabernacle to put on display. What we do have is our lives offered on His altar as living sacrifices…holy and acceptable.
But all this has to point to Him.
We can’t stop at: “Look at us…Look at us…We’re the Church….We’re the Church. “ Once we get their attention by our transformed lives, we’ve got to say…. “hold on….we are not the focus….HE IS THE FOCUS…” “Look at Him. Seek Him. “ “He is the Lord Your God.” Let us take care that in our well-intentioned efforts as church-going Christians, we don’t make ourselves and it (the church) to be the focus. Let us not make ourselves into a substitute for the living God. Let us be aware that we, ourselves can become just one more idol…one more false-god…one more inadequate substitute for the living God.
Consider this final quote by Joy Davidman in her book, Smoke on the Mountain. (Joy is sometimes known as Joy Gresham…her first husband’s last name….but more than likely you will be more familiar with her as she is best known…as Mrs. C.S. Lewis) Her thoughts, first penned in the 1950’s, are nevertheless just as poignant today as then.
We live in an age of lost faith and lost hope and empty hearts. Today the commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” must include, “Thou shalt have me.”
For the beast gods have come creeping back. If we will not have the One, we must in the end accept the many after all. A man with nothing to worship is a man in a vacuum, and the false gods will rush in.
They are not idols nowadays—not Dagon of the Philistines or “the brutish gods of the Nile.” They are worse things. The ancient image worshippers were, at least, worshipping something not themselves, a Power greater than themselves; they were trying in their limited way to make an image of God, and when the image proved faulty they could break it and make a better one, until the day came when they needed no image at all.
But the false gods of today are things of the spirit, and as hard to pluck forth as it is hard for a man to pluck out his right eye.
The beast in the heart is always the self.
From Smoke on the Mountain – An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments, p. 23.