Then God gave the people all these instructions:
â€œI am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.
You must not have any other god but me.â€ Â Â Exodus 20:1-3 (NLT)
Lectionary texts: Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22
There’s always something â€œgoodâ€ in the lectionary texts but this next week’s selections brought me to tears. I â€œgotâ€ the fear of my LORD and the overwhelming love of my Savior and One who is closer than a brother.
Several times in Scripture, God identifies Himself as I AM. To me, in those few letters God gives me the core of who He is. Anything added on to I AM is just part of the explanation for the root of His being. And that is supported by God beginning His commands first with identification of who He is to me and what He has done for me.
God is my God. He is the one who rescued me from the place of my slavery. God did not put me into shackles but He is the One who sets me free from what has me bound and gagged! No one or nothing can set me free but Him. I can strive and work to find the path that will separate me from everything in my life that holds me from living a victorious, joyful life â€“ but no matter my riches or intellectual prowess, I will not be able to be free from the sins that weigh me down without my LORD.
It is I AM and only Him who is sovereign in my life. There is to be no one or nothing that has power or authority over me except Him. Verses 4-6 makes it clear that I am not to make any idol â€“ false god â€“ of anything in my life that I bow to. That means nothing. Not success, physical beauty, family member, even a ministry or the Bible itself is to be more important than the LORD Himself.
I was involved in children’s ministry many years ago. We did a series of children’s musicals that brought many children and their families to a deeper knowledge of Jesus. Through songs and the story lines and the relationships we all learned more about the extraordinary love that God has for us. We also learned about the ‘idols’ that are firmly cemented inside some of our churches. The first play, we (naively) moved chairs and pulpits in order to make more room for the children. A few people â€“ well, they reacted very negatively! Their furniture â€œidolâ€ had become more important than God and what He was doing in the lives of His children. We were blessed to have a pastor who was not afraid to take a stand and proclaim the sovereignty of God, not furniture.
I am going to go even further out on this limb I am on today and say that those of us who are leaders in God’s Church need to be especially mindful of this sin of making an idol out of whatever ministry that we are passionate about. The very passion that God puts into me that keeps me excited and â€œfreshâ€ about Him can be twisted by the enemy until the ministry itself becomes my god. I become possessive about the time, finances, and attention that my ministry receives.
[Jesus said,] â€œI tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them.â€ Â Â Â John 13:16 (CEV)
Jesus came to point me to the Father. He came to show me the Father. Jesus said that any glory that He received came from the Father (John 8:54 and 17:1). And so today, I bow before the LORD, the I AM, in praise and thanksgiving for His great mercy and love.