To know the unfailing love of God
“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those who love me and obey my commands.” Exodus 20:4-6 NLT
This week, we continue the “That is Good News” series on the TEN COMMANDMENTS. This second commandment is not only longer in explanation, but it also contains some pretty stern language. This commandment also seems to be a bit remote when it comes to our modern, Western culture.
The commandment is clear: do not make idols and do not worship idols.
We know that idols have been the focus of worship and admiration for all human history. It might be easy for us to assume that the idols mentioned in the commandment are just those of the ancient world.
Also, since we have little idol making and idol worship in our modern world that this commandment does not have any relevance for us today. We assume that there are no idols in our American society or American church.
I once heard a missionary who had served in India tell an interesting story.
He was in a village outside of one of India’s larger cities. He had grown accustomed to seeing the varying religions practiced by people and even gotten used to seeing the ancient practice of animal sacrifice.
Once when meeting with pastors and church leaders in this village he watched a local “medicine man” sacrifice a live chicken right there in the street and offer it in worship to an idol.
The missionary asked a local pastor, “do you ever get tired of living around all this animal sacrifice and idol worship?”
He said that the pastor’s response blew him away and will be something that he never forgets.
The pastor replied, “you ask me about idol worship? I’ve been to America and I have seen just as much idol worship as we have here.”
The pastor went on to say, “I’ve seen your streets filled with restaurants built to the idol of the stomach, your athletic stadiums built to the idol of sports and your shopping malls built to the idol of materialism.”
The Indian pastor then asked the American missionary, “how do you feel about all the paganism and idol worship in America?”
The missionary telling this story then asked those listening, “how do you feel about idol worship in our culture?”
In giving this second commandment, we see the connection to the first commandment. We also see that God is serious about what we worship, revere and give our love.
It is important for all of us to constantly audit our lives and our allegiance and look to see if we have idols in our lives.
There is a great promise in this commandment.
Those who have no other God but God, who does not make or worship idols, those people will always know the amazing, lavish, unfailing love of God.
When we worship God alone, we know what it is to be completely loved by HIM! That Is Good News!
Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Frist Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.