Who is your god? I’m not asking your religion; what I mean is–who or what really owns you? In your most private and honest of moments, what purpose in your heart and mind do you recognize as most consistently important in your life, which you’ve invariably lived out through evidence of time spent and resources allocated? This certainly might be Jesus Christ or a deity from another established religion, but today it is more likely any one of a number of intangible pursuits like a political or social agenda, wealth acquisition, career and professional distinction, prominence in the community, recognition by your peers, financial security, succcessful marriage, higher education, or simply your own comfort or even pleasure above all else.
“You must not have any other gods except Me.” (Exodus 20:3 NCV)
Many of us learned the King James Version, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me,” but it (and related translations) can be misleading. Some might understand the phrase “before Me” to suggest we can have idols in our life as long as the true God comes first; not only is this contradicted by other portions of the Bible, it is also not the intended meaning of the verse. The Ancient Israelites were, in fact, condemned for participating in the worship of Asheroth and other pagan deities in addition to bringing sacrifices to worship the true God in the Temple.
The phrase “before Me” is, in fact, better rendered “before My presence.” It refers not to a hierarchy among whom or what we worship, but is used in the sense of “coming before Him.” If we approach the true God, our hearts and minds must be wholly and completely His. We cannot be as James says, “double-minded”–doubting, uncertain or not fully convinced about who God is, what He has accomplished and will yet accomplish, His power, majesty, utter unapproachability except through the merit of Jesus Christ, and the totality of reverence He merits. It is not worship if we hedge our bets; if we approach the true God with a just-in-case back-up plan. Neither is it worship if our life betrays the fact that we have elevated some other pursuit–in and of itself possibly good–to an inordinate level, which is also idolatry.
So who or what IS your god? It is a mistake to approach this question frivolously, because none of us can say we have never valued anything more than Jesus Christ and what we have in and through Him.
I suspect we are so easily disloyal to Christ because we are desperately “human.” We are quick to identify with and embrace causes, goals, pursuits and commitments–witness the acrimony between the parties, the races, even it seems between liberal and conservative churches at times, and the turmoil in world news and local politics, as reflected in the media outlets and online on Facebook and elsewhere–yet we shy away from Christ Himself. He told us to “remain in Me, and I in you,” but how do we imagine we do so? Is it merely by mentally somehow thinking we are “in Him?” Or is there something more active and tangible that we need to do to remain in Jesus? Remember that the New Testament book of Hebrews warns us:
“We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For since the message spoken through angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him.” (Hebrews 2:1-3 NIV)
We remain in Him by reading the written Word of God (the Bible), and responding to Him in heart-felt worship and prayer. We do it by reading godly literature, by meeting with others who love Him above all else, by evidencing our faith in Him by acting upon what He reveals to us in His Word, by actually showing love actively to those in our lives.
So again–who is your god? Is it the Republican or Democratic Party? Is it your spouse? Is it a cause you really believe in? Is it you standing in the community? Is it your business? Is it your education or your house or your car? Is it alcohol or drugs–prescription or otherwise–or partying? The list really is endless.
And while many of these pursuits have a place in our lives–some may, in fact, be necessary for our survival–God condemns our habitual looking to things which cannot satisfy, instead of immersing ourselves in and drinking fully from the only One who can:
“My people have done two evils: They have turned away from me, the spring of living water. And they have dug their own wells, which are broken wells that cannot hold water.” (Jeremiah 2:13 NCV)
I need to recognize who or what my God/god really is, and choose wisely!
Help me “Love [You] the Lord…[my] God with all…[my] heart and with all…[my] soul and with all…[my] mind.” (Matthew 22:37 NIV) Amen.