How relevant is the first Commandment today?
In Sunday School, I memorized the Ten Commandments when I was young. The first one was probably the one I paid the least attention to. Shucks. "Other gods" (i.e idols?) Passe.
It was pretty hard to imagine being tempted to buy an idol and worship it. Of course, I knew that idolatry applied to anything which we replaced God with--but even then the examples were almost as irrelevant; money; fame; friends etc; and I could safely examine them from a distance.
Idolatry was the Israelites' greatest sin. Again and again over the course of Old Testament history we see them returning to the Canaanite gods, voluntarily enslaving themselves to the rites and mystic fear...
In all honesty I used to feel they were pretty dense not to have learnt their lesson after so many times. What's with the wooden images anyway?
"You shall have no other gods besides Me."
We have our own idols today. Very likely not wooden images, but they grip us with the same powerful intensity that the Canaanite gods gripped the Israelites with.We devote ourselves to them blindly, unthinkingly.Think it's rightful to do so. Never think of questioning their importance.
We worship them for the same reason the Israelites worshiped their Baals and Ashtoreths. Because we want a sense of security. Because it seems logical and makes sense. Because it ties in with pursuing our pleasures. Because it makes it easy for us to do what we want to do--or promises a straightforward way to get what we wanted.
The greatest form of idol worship today, an idol everyone without exception has bowed to--is bowing to--is ourselves. The worship of self. Something so natural we hardly stop to question it.
This is the greatest idol in my life, and it has been manifesting itself in all sorts of small and subtle ways that I am slowly realizing--such as what I've been struggling with for a long time: idolizing my failures and successes.
It took me a long time to see this as a form of idolatry; after all, shouldn't we be sad over our failures, and isn't it right and natural to be happy over our successes?
But we are not evaluated based on our performance (thank God.) Getting depressed when I fail, arrogant when I succeed--as if either makes a difference to who I am. Christ already knew the full extent of my imperfection when He died for me.There is no need to be enslaved to evaluating my life and myself by how well--or not--I do. (Why self, anyway? Why all the attention on yourself in the first place?)
Success doesn't make God love me more, or make me a better person; it's way more likely to give me an artificial (but very pleasant to believe and look at) idea of myself, which boosts my ego and reassures me that I'm not such a bad person after all.
I have to humbly accept that I will fail sometimes, because I am imperfect--and that even then, it is God's good plan for me.
Why am I so upset when I fail anyway? Because it hurts my pride? Because it hurts to admit that I'm imperfect?
Actually the same reasons--pride/self-love--apply to both failures and successes.
We love ourselves so much that we--
a.) can't wait to pat ourselves on the back and say "See! I told you I was an awesome person!" when we do well;
b.) can't bear to see the truth about ourselves whenever we fail, whenever we make mistakes.
Instead, what would better define me would be how I respond to both.
However differently it manifests itself, self-worship is in our lives. In our attitudes towards our lives, and towards others. So many of my struggles come from this misguided sense of myself being De Most Important Thing.
To have a heart which desires to please You more than anyone else--including myself.
To have no other gods--including myself--besides You.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
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