The first commandment in the Exodus Reading, i.e., “…You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves…” is as relevant in 2007, the 21st century after Christ as it was centuries earlier when this commandment was given. The kinds of gods that one may be tempted to worship will differ by country, culture, year, gender, role and class in society, etc. But, the fundamental temptation is there.
I, and perhaps, others, when thinking about this Reading conjure up visual images of clay and stone shapes of other god-like images that may have been used at the time of this commandment. The reading specifically mentions shapes of things found in the sky, on the earth, and in the water. Many of us can easily visualize god-like stone images of birds, animals, fish, etc. that people were praying to. This Reading specifically commands against use of such images.
Fast forward through the 21 centuries. When I think about the idols that people have “carved” for imaging instead of the only God, I think of more conceptual traits and how they become gods in one’s life. The quests for wealth and power gods have been consistent across time and space – and, have become the “other gods” for some people. These quests have been lived out in as many ways as is possible in different environments by many people.
When fast forwarding, stop in July 2007. I need to ask the question – am I carving an idol for myself besides the true God? What might that idol look like in Summer 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska? Too much time spent with work? On the Internet? With any of the addictions – whether seen as positive or negative? Watching television? Being cynical? Making war? Being intolerant of others? Not forgiving others? Your personal spiritual journey might have you thinking of other idols that are the temptation in your time and space on this earth. What are the 21st century god-like idols that are your temptation?
“…you shall not bow down before them or worship them.” Are there traits or things or factors in our lives (while not stone or clay images) that might be gods that we are worshiping? May we both recognize such “other gods” in our lives and work toward eliminating our worship of them.
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