Friday, May 3, 2019. Over the past days I have run several times into the first commandment: do not have other Gods! We were reading the letter of Paul to the Romans recently with our bible study group, and Paul talks about how mankind lives without God. He talks about those choosing their own Gods.
Also, life can point you to a particular topic. You realize that you have some categories in your mind. Things can be deep in your life, your feelings, in the way you look at the world. What are the Gods in YOUR life? I am realizing those in mine …
First Commandment …
The core point is summarized in the bible by a very old commandment. It is – until today – in the heart of faith, and in the heart of life. In 2nd Moses, also called the book of Exodus, chapter 20, it is written:
1 And God spoke all these words, saying, 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before [besides] me. (2 Moses 20, 1ff)
This seems either trivial, or it seems a nuisance. Do not have other Gods! Some of us say that of course they believe only in ONE God, the creator of heaven and earth. You find people saying this in different religions. You also find those saying: there is no God. They think that the verses are merely a tool of power of one religion to oppress others, who do not believe, or who believe in another God. And it is possible to misuse any of the commandments! Unfortunately we have to say that it happened a lot in history. Humans are humans after all, and they tend to misuse things, even very good things.
But the point here is much deeper. What is the commandment about? Why is it good to stick to the one and only God? What other Gods do we have? It is not just about the Gods who are declared as Gods, the concept here is much wider!
Who is your God? The reformator Martin Luther in Germany argued that all things or people who are most important to you can take the role of “your God”. What my heart depends on, is my God! The commandments want us to be free from worldly dependence and addiction. To this end, we need the eternal God!
By the way, there are two lines of argument here. One is about facts. There is one God and only one God - the creator, in father and son and holy spirit. This is the Christian statement about the reality of this world. It is, in the first place, completely independent of whether this is useful for us or not, whether we need God or not. He IS.
The second line of argument is that we are created to live with God. He is the center, we are created to be with him. Without him, something in our soul, our heart, our mind and our life is missing. We miss God, the heavenly home and father. We cannot live without him. We fill the missing part by other things. Here we come to the other Gods. These are those things or humans, which fill the role of God in our life.
So now we can explore what other Gods are there and take HIS role. This might be acknowledgement, it might be money, it might be another person, it might be … many things can take the role of God. Even hatred. Even anger or rage. It can be bitternes. It is time to discover the real God, in and through Christ Jesus, and also the others, which try to capture our heart! (Roland Potthast) ... further texts