God does not enjoy competition. Jostling to get the front of the line of those mankind worships is NOT His idea of a good time.
In Exodus 20:3, we read, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (ESV).
We should have no gods in front of Him – or beside
Him. This claim of God on our allegiance to Him is an exclusive claim. In other words, if we worship Him, we may not worship any other, whether it be a false god, a person, or things. Let me give you an example. US citizenship is intended to be exclusive. Technically, an adult may not be a US citizen and a citizen of another nation. We do not allow dual citizenship. Now I know that this law is poorly, if ever, enforced, and there are many loopholes and technicalities. The principle, however, is that it is impossible to split your allegiance between two sovereign nations. This was the same thinking that went into the internment of Japanese people in the United States during WWII. Jesus stated the principle pretty clearly in Matthew 6:24,
No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
So what’s the practical application of this principle? Here are a couple of ideas in that regard.
- We may not make things (even ideas) into gods. Men and women worship just about everything. History, of course is one of the greatest idols of academics and non-scholars alike. Today’s greatest false god is Nature. To be an environmentalist today doesn’t mean caring about your environment and being a good steward of the universe God has created. No, it means to call the earth, “Mother Earth,” and to extend to this mother all the worship and allegiance due God – who created the earth. We also worship wealth and belongings, and power. Some even worship their own children. Then of course, there are the false gods in the traditional sense: Buddha, Allah; Krishna, etc. We cannot worship Buddha and the true God; the Lodge and the true God; the zodiac and the true God; we cannot worship both the church and the true God. God tells us, “know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39 (It would be good to take time to read this in context, beginning in v. 15).
- We may not make ourselves into gods. In Romans 1:25 we see that God is angry with mankind and has turned us over to the workings of our own depravde minds, “…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”
We human beings do tend to deify ourselves. Instead of reliance upon our God; our reliance is upon our own wisdom. We deify science and claim that discoveries come from our own fertile minds, while we are merely discovering what God has created and put in place for us. We worship strength and beauty and youth. We adore wealth and power and connections. But we need to be brought back to our senses and remember that we already have a perfectly good God who does not need to be replaced. Why try to replace Him with a frail or faulty copy which can only lead to hell?