“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol 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, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name." Exodus 20:2–7 NIV
The first three of the Ten Commandments set the stage and the tone of the rest -- God. No other gods, no idols and no misuse of His name. This is not some sort of ego trip by God, it is not as C.S. Lewis believed before falling in love with Jesus "like a vain woman wanting compliments." (Lewis came to understand that God's jealousy for His name actually reflected a great love for the people He created, for only in praising Him would we be truly satisfied -- all other objects of praise would leave us empty). Author John Piper puts it this way: "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him." That is to say, that whatever gives us the greatest pleasure usually will or has become a god in our lives, and therefore if we are most satisfied and contented by the real God, we show His worth to us.
God wants each and every person on earth -- including you, "next step" reader -- to experience joy, peace, hope, love, reconciliation, restoration, and contentment, regardless of circumstances. He knows that if our ultimate hope is in anything other than Him, that hope can (and usually will) be taken away at some point and we will be left hopeless and adrift. If, on the other hand, our hope is in the person of Jesus, we know that whatever the circumstances, He will be there (even if we cannot feel Him, are angry at Him, or cannot explain what is happening). Our job as Christians, therefore, is to seek more of Him. Saint Augustine says we are to, "love God and do as you please." If you do this, you will walk in the way of God, overflowing in hope and mercy to your neighbor. If you love God, you will love people; if you do not love people, you cannot be fully loving God, if you do not love God, you cannot truly love people.
So, a couple of questions:
- Where do you think you are lacking on the Love God/Love People equation?
- What might you do to draw closer to God?
- What might you do to increase your love of people?
- Who do you know who can help you in one or both sides of this equation?
I'd love to hear from you if you have any comments or questions.
Peace, hope and love