I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me.
I have to say for years, after hundreds of hours of religious instruction in some of the best Catholic schools in the U.S., and then decades of searching, looking into several belief systems, I never understood this commandment.
I think I do nowadays.
It’s easy to create idols. I face it all the time. And when I say that, I mean like nearly every minute of the day.
I can make an idol out of pretty much anything given a few minutes of free time. The idol can be my spouse, or my daughter, or my job, or money, intellect, pride, ego, or the disdain of money. And when I strip all that stuff away, the idol isn’t really any of that stuff.
The idol, in its many guises, is me.
When I became a Christian, I realized for the first time I didn’t have it all figured out. I understood suddenly and a bit painfully, I wasn’t such great shakes after all. And it occurred to me I was kidding myself when I said I didn’t believe in God. Sure I did. He was me.
And when I think of who that guy is, well, he doesn’t need to be on a pedestal. He doesn’t need to be followed. That guy should be no one’s idol.
He counsels taking the easy road. He says be quiet and don’t ruffle any feathers. He advises taking the path that requires no change. He tells me to walk the road that needs no sacrifice.
He does have all the answers. They’re the easy ones. They’re the wrong ones.
He tries to stay on top. He does it all the time. If I give him a second he’s elbowing his way in and he’s talking all kinds of compromises.
The last place he needs to be is calling the shots. Whenever I can, I push him down.
Sometimes the idols fall.