“You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).
Some say this word is focused on worship and rebellion. We are only to worship God. But in our rebellion we worship others gods, or ourselves. It’s said that because God redeemed Israel God has a special right and authority over Israel, and to protect this authority God demands exclusive allegiance. In this view God is over Israel, demands worship, and expects obedience. Many emphasize that God is Israel’s new master, lord, and ruler.
But what if…
But what if this first word—“word” as a way of life not merely a “commandment” to be obeyed—is about freedom and love?
God knows that to look to other gods (to have other god’s before God) IS TO RETURN to slavery and death. God reminds them the verse before, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery” (Ex. 20:2). God doesn’t want us to return to slavery and death, and that’s what this word is protecting against.
Word of Life: LOVING
Where is the word directing us? How is this word guiding us?
The positive side of this word is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deut. 6:5). Loving God opens us to God’s ways of connecting with God’s world, of relating to God’s people, of working for God’s justice and righteousness. Having other gods closes us off from these ways.
Turning to other gods—to other authorities, other powers, other pursuits of happiness and pleasure, other paths for protecting ourselves or finding purpose or seeking provision—turning to these will away lead toward the death of community and relationship.
But being devoting to God, LOVING God exclusively train us into the freedom to love others exceptionally. Or better, we learn to love others gratuitously.
Ever ask, "Does God Really Like Me?"
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