You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God… Exodus 20:4-5

 

Most life-changing moments happen when you least expect them…

While performing my morning ritual of trying to transform my broken curly hair into silky straight hair, I scrambled to answer a phone buried somewhere in our newly built Alexandria home.  It was my husband, Stephen.

“Are you sitting down?”  I told him, “NO, I’m running late!”.  His reply: “Want to move to Germany?”

I sat down…

Three months later we stepped off the plane and met our new, internet-chosen, furnished apartment, located smack in the heart of Munich.  Turns out cyber space had treated us well.  This flat was very special.

But living in a home filled with someone else’s things can be tough to navigate.  While I probably wouldn’t have placed a grand piano in the master bedroom, we could live with that.  There were, however, some things that weren’t exactly working for me.

Namely, it was the statues of gods.  Big and small, each shelf and windowsill seemed to have one.  An intervention was in order.  I gathered weighted handfuls of everything that represented someone else’s world, and I found a spot for them in the front closet.  As long as we lived here, I was handing the authority back where it belonged.

That space in our hall became known as “The closet with the gods”.

Q:  “Where are my hiking boots?”

A:  “In the closet with the gods.”

Q:  “Where is the vacuum cleaner?”

A:  “In the closet with the gods.”

After a while, it spilled out of our mouths so naturally that when our family was visiting and we absentmindedly mentioned it, we had some explaining to do.

No. Graven. Image.

We can’t take it lightly.  It’s not an issue merely reserved for B.C. communities.  It’s alive.  It’s thriving.  And with 33,000,000 gods in Hinduism alone, it’s not a small problem.

Our God is a jealous one.  He tells us Himself.  I’ll admit that sometimes this description bothers me.  In our society, jealousy represents a lack of self-confidence, and I don’t like thinking about God sitting around craving more spotlight to boost His ego.  But that is, most certainly, not what this about.

God is jealous because when He comes INTO our lives, there is no room — no space, no small corner, no chance — for us to worship anything else.  His very nature requires that He doesn’t share His authority.  And when we try to manipulate our life to include other “rulers”, it doesn’t mean we get something from each.  It means God is OUT.  We loose Him.

This commandment comes down to one crucial thing: Who do you worship?

“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”  John 4:23

He’s looking for us.  True worshipers.  Not perfect — just TRUE.  And if there are true worshipers, you’d better believe there are false ones too.  Which one are you?  To answer, we’ve got to get very honest with ourselves.

I once had a private tour guide in India who’d agreed to take my friends and me only to the locations we’d pre-discussed.  It’s a more important conversation to have than you’d think.  Otherwise, you’ll end up in warehouses packed with rugs, jewelry and crooks who won’t let you leave (!) until you overpay for things you don’t want.

Three days in, our guide was doing a pretty good job, but late one evening I awoke to find he’d added an unexpected detour.  He assured us this was one location we simply had to see and he wasn’t taking “No” for an answer.

Turns out, it was one of the most beloved Hindu temples in the world.  As the crowds streamed in and out, curiosity got the best of me.  With shoes off, I stood in the center of the massive great hall and looked up at the beautiful white marble walls.  They were painstakingly carved, and wrapping the entire room was one god after another.

My proud guide stood beside me, rocking back and forth on his bare heels.  He was clearly waiting to hear a “thank you” for this special surprise stop.  Eyes still pointed upwards, I said honestly, “I’m a Christian and I worship Jesus Christ”.  Excitedly, he said, “So do I!!”  For a moment, my heart did a dance.  Until he turned me around and showed me a crucified Jesus carved along the “hall of fame” for gods.  Christ was right in the center, close to a monkey with many arms.

Right now, you and I aren’t standing in a Hindu temple together, but can you look up?  Do you picture the carefully carved walls inside of you?  Who do YOU worship?  Maybe you’d answer enthusiastically just like my Indian friend, “I worship Jesus, too!!”  But what else is carved there?  Is Christ flanked with things like your kids, job, boyfriend, talents, fb page, twitter feed … Things we never considered had taken a position of control that, ultimately, equates to worship in our lives?

We need to ask ourselves:  Do I view God in light of these things or do I view these things in light of God?

For a lot of this week I’d thought I finally found a commandment where I’m doing well.  But when the answer came, it was even uglier than the rest.

Today in church I just couldn’t quite “get into” the singing.  I kept repeating to myself: focus on the Lord, think about what you are saying in these songs, hurry-up before your chance is over.  But you know why it was so important for me to do this well?  I have a blog to put out on Mondays and two Bible studies to lead on Thursdays… I needed quick inspiration.

I — needed something.

The idol I’ve carved has a rather familiar face.  She’s just a bit more together, a bit more spiritual, a bit more ideal.  The image I’m worshiping is me.  And I’ve brilliantly disguised her with an attempt to point others back to Jesus.  But first, I’d like for you to see ME.  Like ME, then you can like Him.

Words fail my heart.  Father, teach me humility as my salty tears beg you to take your rightful place in my life again.

When we come to the throne of the Father in worship, it should be in an effort to say, “This is for you.  Just You.”  And in pouring our hearts’ gratefulness out at His feet, maybe we get something in return.  Maybe we don’t.

We must RUN to bring it anyway.

There are many things we get to value in life.  But every single day we need to remind ourselves — It’s about YOU, God.  Who and what I have is yours.  Re-align my attitude, my words, and my desires to yours.  Teach me to worship you.  JUST YOU.

It’s a POWERFUL thing to ask.  As He floods IN, we’ll be overcome by the peace that comes with Him.  “Namaste” pales in comparison.  Buddha pales.  Horoscopes pale.  Crystals pale.  Allah pales.  YOU pale.

Let HIM wash over you.  He’s all you’ll ever need (and then some).