part 2 of No Other Gods… My Bible study girls (co-leader Cindy always calls us girls and I love it) have been talking about how easy it is to turn to things other than God for direction, comfort, and sustenance. But almost as soon as we started studying No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols (Kelly Minter), I wondered something which seemed kind of sacrilegious: how do we know God is the best we can worship?
We have birds in our yard. It’s Rob’s doing; he builds houses and stocks feeders designed to attract “good” birds (finches, bluebirds, swallows). Despite this, we also get invasive sparrows, the dark underbelly of the bird world. Like pesky little sparrows, my thoughts kept circling back to the question of why we’re so clearly commanded to worship God alone. I guess I just needed to feel, to the core of my being, that this was really what’s best for me and the gals before plunging us too deep into our study.
Deuteronomy 6:5 is clear in its command: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength”. Ok, but what about God makes Him the only One who can utter this directive? I looked through a list of “Names of God” in my concordance, because all of the ways God is named in Scripture are really representations of the facets of His character. Several of them speak to the fact that God, as sole creator of the universe (Gen. 1:1), is sovereign over everything:
- God Most High Gen. 14:19
- Eternal God Deut. 33:27
- God of Heaven Jonah 1:9
- King Eternal 1 Tim. 1:17
- Infinite 1 Kings 8:27
Other verses speak to his omniscience (all-knowing), omnipresence (outside the boundaries of space and time), and omnipotence (all-powerful). God, through Jesus, holds all things together through the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).
When I think about it, I realize that there is no one else who has ever made these claims and been proven faithful to them. So far, God was making a strong case for Himself. But while my mind was engaged with this truth, my heart still needed a little convincing. I hate to admit it, but a tiny part of me whispered, “What’s in it for me?” If I’m giving my whole heart to Him, getting rid of my crutches (idols), and asking the girls to do the same, can we be assured He’s going to look out for our well-being?
It can be hard for us to believe He will, because we look at Him through the cracked lens of brokenness. Living in this world, we can’t help it. But paging through Scripture, I was reminded that He really does love us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3), and that His commands always come with blessings attached. He never asks anything of us that’s not for our good.
In fact, if you go back and read those famous verses in Deuteronomy, the ones that sound like a firm command (because they are), you’ll see, along with the ladies and I, that God says the reason He wants us to live within His guidelines is precisely so “it will go well with you”. God isn’t keeping some kind of heavenly rule book and fact-checking our obedience. No! He calls us to a life of blessing, and walking in His ways is the conduit to that life. The ancient promises attached to Deut. 6 are ones I’d take in a New York minute: long life, generations of faithful descendants, provision.
All of this reminds me of serving broccoli for dinner when my kids were young, and speaking those time-honored words, “If you don’t eat two bites of broccoli, you won’t get dessert.” Parents know why we say this. It’s not about the dessert. It’s because deep down we care about our kids’ health. Eating broccoli automatically put good nutrients into their bodies, just like following God automatically put us on a path of well-being.
The girls and I have been discovering that ridding ourselves of idols makes more room for God in our hearts. The more we can make room, the more He can fill us with Himself, and the more of Him we have, the more freedom and blessing there will be. God wants to give us everything He has for us! Like a parent on Christmas morning, waiting with expectation while a shiny new bike stands tucked behind the tree, God has gifts in store that we don’t even know are there. He’s got them ready, and He can’t wait for us to open them as we pursue the path He’s marked out for us if we’re willing to stay on it.