No Other gods Before Me

I read an article the other day about idolatry. It’s a word you don’t hear much in casual conversation and the article talks about what an idol really is. It was written by Jennifer Slattery, a writer and speaker who has addressed women’s groups, writer’s seminars, church groups and conducted Bible studies.

She talks about how idols are anything we treasure more than God; anything that drives our thoughts and actions in life. Her list surprised me in many ways, mentioning things that I never really thought of as an idol. Here’s her list of ten:

I’m very sure that if I made a list of the things that might be idols in my life, my list would not include most of these things. But her list certainly captured my attention and made me think about how I might idolize some of these “good” things in life.

I mainly questioned one of the idols on her list which was relationships. I know that I talk often about relationships; both our relationships with each other and, having that right relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But after reading Ms. Slattery’s thoughts about her relationship with her daughter and how obsessed she was with that relationship I could see that it’s not hard for us to promote certain relationships above our love for God. If a relationship is consuming most of your time, energy, resources and even your thoughts, it could be in the category of an idol in your life. If a relationship is causing you to compromise your faith, it is definitely an idol in your life.

She says, “Only Jesus Christ can meet our deepest needs to love and be loved. When we’re centered in Him first and fully, we’re free to enjoy our relationships with others in a healthy manner.”

The first commandment given by God is, “you shall have no other gods before me.” In Luther’s Small Catechism Luther goes on to say that we should fear, love, and trust God above all things, including our human relationships. In the 21st century, idolatry may not be the same as it was two or three thousand years ago, but it still exists, perhaps in some cases it’s not as obvious, but more subtle.

The website for Christianity Today also had a list of idols and the idols they listed were more in line with my thoughts of idolatry: phones, images, materialism, lust and money. These are all things that can occupy our time and take us away from what’s important in our lives, mainly our faith.

Maybe in this new year we should ask ourselves:
Is there anything that I feel I can’t live without?
Is there anything (or anyone) that occupies my thought life above everything else?
Is there something (or someone) in my life that I feel I need to control?
Is there something (or someone) that makes me feel out of control?
Is there something (or someone) that causes me to compromise my faith and trust in God?

If we want to avoid idolatry, maybe we should listen to the words Paul wrote to the Philippian church, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

We need to put God first, trusting that when we do, our lives will be more productive, our priorities will align, our relationships will be healthier, and we will find peace.

“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

In Jesus’ name,
Pastor Scott


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