I will have no false gods. As long as I can remember, I have known that this was one of God’s commandments. It was an easy one, I believed. There is only one God. I don’t believe in any other gods. I don’t believe any other gods exist. Check. One commandment followed. I thought…
Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan; Instead either fire, or wind, or the swift air, or the circuit of the stars, or the mighty water, or the luminaries of heaven, the governors of the world, they considered gods. Now if out of joy in their beauty they thought them gods, let them know how far more excellent is the Lord than these; for the original source of beauty fashioned them. Or if they were struck by their might and energy, let them realize from these things how much more powerful is the one who made them. For from the greatness and the beauty of created things their original author, by analogy, is seen. But yet, for these the blame is less; For they have gone astray perhaps, though they seek God and wish to find him. For they search busily among his works, but are distracted by what they see, because the things seen are fair. But again, not even these are pardonable. For if they so far succeeded in knowledge that they could speculate about the world, how did they not more quickly find its Lord?
I do not call them gods, but I have put things before God. The so called good things in life: food, money, power, jobs, family, friends. Is it wrong to enjoy life? “Foolish by nature were all who were in ignorance of God, and who from the good things seen did not succeed in knowing the one who is, and from studying the works did not discern the artisan.” The failing in enjoying the good things is not recognizing God in all of them. The joy that we feel in beautiful things — incomparable to the beauty of their creator and the joy He can bring. Humans are better than anything we can create. Similarly, God, our creator, is far greater than what He has created. Every powerful force that we see on earth, whether natural or man made, is nothing when compared to God who created and fashioned all power. Because I cannot fathom this beauty and strength, this power and joy, I sometimes let it fall to the back of my mind and instead focus on the lesser things in front of me.
I don’t think of it as worshipping a false god — because I still allow myself to think of this as I did as a child — worshipping is something you do in church, and I only worship God in church. And therein lies my problem. I limit my worshipping to church. I only worship God in church. But my focus and energies on these lesser things outside of church is putting these things in front of God. God gives us so much evidence of his goodness, his power, his strength, his majesty, his beauty and the joy that only He can provide us. How do we not more quickly find the Lord?
Lord, forgive me. Sometimes I need the smack in the face to see what is right in front of me. You have made so many wondrous things. I am distracted by the beauty that surrounds me. I am mystified by your strength and power. I am in awe. My mind wants to know and see what it cannot even begin to understand. Forgive me, God. I am lazy. I settle for what I can see rather than searching for what I do not understand. Help me. I want to keep your commandments. I want to put You above all things. Help me to keep that focus so that I might do your will.