The Rev. Dan Puckett: Who are those ‘other gods?’Published 10:00pm Thursday, September 30, 2010
These commandments were given by Almighty God, the creator of the universe. All of us were created by God’s power and fashioned for His glory. The rules of relationship between us, God, and our fellow man are the Ten Commandments.
The second commandment goes on to talk about idols and anything else that could capture our heart and worship. The third warns against our using the Lord’s name in an unholy manner. The fourth highlights the importance of resting from our work just as the Lord did upon creating everything.
It is easy for us to skip over these first four commandments because the last six commandments seem to be more specific and applicable.
We are not sure about idolatry. We know we do not have a golden calf or anything like that, but stealing, lying, murder, adultery, coveting, etc., are pretty clear. God does not have to draw us a picture.
What about these “other gods”?
Our lives consist of multiple arenas, areas of overlapping circles. We have a church world, we have family, we have work, we have friends, and we have play or activities. In each of these arenas, there are “rules for the game.”
In church we can recognize the living God of heaven, ascribe loyalty to Him, and declare total surrender. It is easy there because everybody is singing the same song and listening to the same message.
When we leave church to enter our family world, we may have a new god ruling us. In church we elevated honesty and humility in our minds. In our family world we can close ourselves off. Just a few minutes ago in church, we released everything to God, but now in our family, the “turf war” begins anew, and our attitude is, “I will only go so far in this.” The fight we had on the way to church erupts again almost before we get out of the parking lot. The “other god” of selfishness has gained our allegiance.
Then it is off to school, work or some other arena. Every arena is like a territory, and in pagan cultures, each territory has its own deity. When a person passed into these other territories, they had to be careful to appease the local god.
At school or work we believe that obedience to the living God of heaven might thwart our progress to be popular, get ahead, or whatever else is exalted in that arena. Small lies or misrepresentations that make us look better than we really are become the new god we must serve. Being a servant and taking the path of humility seems so contradictory to the rules of self-exaltation and lifting “me” at the expense of others. In our thinking, we entertain that there is no way we believe that almighty God and His ways can triumph in this arena. So we bow down to “other gods.”
So, if we take seriously the first commandment, we must believe almighty God to be bigger and more powerful than all those other gods we are tempted to give allegiance to. Honoring God does not always elevate us in this present, fallen world. The principles of greed, ambition, selfishness and pleasure rule the world system. God may not even protect us from harm as we seek to stand with him. Thousands around the world are persecuted and put to death daily for taking a stand for God and his only begotten son, Jesus Christ.
Believing and trusting God must include the fact that we know he has already written the last chapter. We know the outcome. Almighty God will triumph, and we will triumph with him if we stand with him now.
Be sure that whatever “other gods” there might be in our lives, that we destroy them and yield ourselves fully to the living God of heaven, the creator of heaven and Earth.
The Rev. Dan Puckett is a minister with Life Action Ministries.