When my pastor asked what the god was in my life that was taking the place of thee God, the one true God, I couldn’t answer, so I wondered. He said it was anything that took up your mind, time and money. I didn’t really know what mine might be because a false god seemed like it was something obvious like an obsession with sports, Netflix movies, compulsive shopping, over eating, lust, amassing money or gaining influence through self promotion. I could check all those off my list as “safe”, but I knew enough to know that I didn’t know “me” like God did and I might be fooling myself with a pat on my back.
So I asked the LORD to speak it out to me in no uncertain terms what my gods were. As I prayer journaled, He gently showed me, through the writing of my own words, two gods I serve: insecurity and control.
I realized that every day I cater to the worry of what others are thinking or assuming. “Am I doing enough? Is it what they wanted? Do I look pretty in that photo?….delete, delete, delete! Am I kind, funny enough? Am I less respected because things are not put together in my home?” The list could go on and on and frankly, writing all that just exhausted me! Imagine how much time and space that takes up in my mind each day.
And then there’s control. “What happens if this doesn’t happen? What am I going to do if I can’t do this? What will I say if this is said to me? What if God doesn’t come through in this situation?” Exhausting. These “little” gods are so subtle and “managed” that I most likely would never call them out as gods in my life apart from the Lord revealing them. I might never have seen the influence they have on my shaping my thoughts and actions toward God and others.
In the Old Testament, worshipping gods other than Yahweh was blatantly obvious. People erected Asherah poles to other “deities” and went all out with strange rituals and festivals and they sacrificed their children to these gods. Whoa….there was pretty much no mistaking the whole violation of the very first commandment, “You must not have any god but me“ Exodus 20:3 NLT
Jesus brings it up a notch in the New Testament when he breaks it down this way, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37-38 NLT) He said this to a Pharisee who was really good at “keeping” those Ten Commandments by outward appearance. He thought he had those boxes checked off but then Jesus exposed his heart.
We can’t truly find that feeling of peace and rest if we have other gods taking up space in our hearts. We can’t find a persevering joy in life’s trials, or be able to help others in theirs, if we are catering to lesser gods clamoring for our attention. We can never really know freedom until we choose to surrender.
I’m sure there are other areas in my life where there are gods that have not been exposed to me yet. God is gentle and removes splinters one at a time, slowly.
It’s a daily discipline for me to tear down the gods in my life that compete with thee God-my God. I’m not going to worry about things or people I can’t control. Those problems really belong to God, not me. I’m going to stop looking in the mirror and calculating the rate of deterioration. I’m not going to get anxious for answers I don’t have in life or what’s going to happen. Instead, I’m going to thank God for things I do have even if they are less than my ideal. I’m going to relax about the stuff in piles around my home and that my toilet always seems to smell like pee. I’m going to trust him for all those things that I can’t pay for or the relationship that seems to be in just as much deficit as those bills. I’m going to breathe and rest and worship God for who He is, how He loves me and the liberating fact that there is nothing He cannot do! There is no other god who can do this than our God. And this is really all that matters in life -to love Him with all my heart, my soul and mind. That’s what it means to have no other god before Him.