It means to only have one God, which is God. When we find something, we don’t go gaga over it. We still pray to God and not to the new thing,” says Ashley, 11.
For a fuller understanding of “gaga,” let’s go to Cory, 11: “When the commandment says to have no other gods ‘before Me,’ it means to love something more than God.”
Lee, 8, gets specific: “You should worship God instead of your bike, Nintendo, computer or TV. You should read the Bible more.”
The average American watches more than four hours of television a day. Lee, do you mean I shouldn’t veg out in front of the tube for 28 hours a week? After all, I don’t actually worship. I spend at least two hours a week in church on Sunday. Does God want more?
Yes, says Haley, 11: “The first commandment means don’t spend more time on anything than God. God is more important than TV or radio.”
Even in a fast-paced world, we always seem to make time for important relationships. For example, people who have good marriages order their lives so that they spend time with each other. God wants to be our first love.
“God is kind of jealous and also the one and only true God,” says Amber, 12. When God is jealous, it’s a good kind of jealousy. We usually think of jealousy as being small and petty. God’s jealousy is big and benevolent. He wants our whole heart because only his love can bring us into a deeper, larger place where he is our all in all.
“The first commandment means having no god but Jesus. For example, a lot of people mistake money for a god,” says Chris, 10. “It means don’t worship money and the things that can take over your life,” adds Will, 9.
It’s the love of money that is the root of many kinds of evil, the Apostle Paul wrote.
There’s nothing inherently evil about money, but loving it will lead you into many forms of evil. When the love of it takes over, everything is seen through the eyes of money.
My good friend Tony Carnes has written a book on idolatry. He’s an accomplished author and scholar. I’ve asked him to share a few thoughts. Here’s Tony:
“An idol is anything or anyone other than God that we allow to drive our lives. Take that popular idolatry, money or wealth. God cherishes every human being, but when you put making money before God, you redivide your world so that some people get pushed aside. You gravitate toward friendships with people who have money and avoid ‘the losers’ — the working class, the poor and the unemployed.
“Kids know quickly when an idol is controlling you. Parents and relatives are the sunshine of their lives. When your idol directs your life’s light away from them, they immediately notice and start to wilt.”
Idols, ancient or modern, always result in frustration, dissolution and ultimately despair. People and things can never fill the longing God put in our heart for an intimate love relationship with him and true community with his people as they gather under his headship.
Think about this: If God isn’t our first love, life will become an endless scramble to fill the emptiness we sense.
By Carey Kinsolving