“Do not make an idol for yourself—no form whatsoever” Exodus 20:4
I’ll never forget the first new car I bought. I was so excited to finally have a brand-spanking new car. It was so shiny and clean. And I vowed to keep it that way. Even though I had a family and job, my car was always clean. Rain or Shine! At a neighborhood meeting, I met a man for the first time who said, “Oh, you’re the guy who washes his car in the rain.”
But that was the wrong description of what I was. I was obsessed. I was inching God a little off His rightful place of worship in my life to make room for my vehicle. I loved a man-made, metal box on wheels. I was dedicated to its well-being. See my shiny new car? See how dedicated to keeping it clean and shiny I am? God was not pleased.
Ezekiel 20:5 Say to them, The LORD God proclaims: On the day I chose Israel, I swore a solemn pledge to the descendants of Jacob’s household. When I made myself known to them in the land of Egypt, I swore a solemn pledge: I am the LORD your God.
Acts 3:22 Moses said, The Lord your God will raise up from your own people a prophet like me. Listen to whatever he tells you. Whoever doesn’t listen to that prophet will be totally cut off from the people.
How hard is it for us to let go of things and people we love? Very! But our Heavenly Father, our Creator, knew that, which is why he provided Jesus as our Savior, the One who could overcome all the temptations for us. He knew and decided to commit Himself fully to us by sending Jesus to die in our place. “Amazing Grace, how could it be?” And yet, in the middle of His grace and mercy is our choice to be obedient. His death can only cleanse our sins if we choose to follow Him. Choose to be forgiven. And choose to walk in His way.
Matthew 4:10 For the Scriptures say, You must worship the LORD your God and serve only Him.
Matthew 16:24-29 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me will find them. Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? What will people give in exchange for their lives? For the Son of Man is about to come with the majesty of his Father with his angels. And then he will repay each one for what that person has done.
Confessing and Rejecting Christ
“Those who declare publicly that they belong to me, I will do the same for them before my Father in heaven. But those who reject me publicly, I will reject before my Father in heaven.
Not Peace, but a Sword
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the world. No, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I came to set sons against their fathers, daughters against their mothers, daughters-in-law against their mothers-in-law; your worst enemies will be the members of your own family.
“Those who love their father or mother more than me are not fit to be my disciples; those who love their son or daughter more than me are not fit to be my disciples. Those who do not take up their cross and follow in my steps are not fit to be my disciples. Those who try to gain their own life will lose it; but those who lose their life for my sake will gain it.
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes God’s messenger because he is God’s messenger, will share in his reward. And whoever welcomes a good man because he is good, will share in his reward. You can be sure that whoever gives even a drink of cold water to one of the least of these my followers because he is my follower, will certainly receive a reward.”
If we were in an audience listening to a person preaching on this subject, as they finished with this section of Scripture there would be absolute silence in the room. Instinctively we recoil from these demands. Say it isn’t so, we quietly murmur. Surely not; God is not like this. He is a God of love. Indeed He is but He demands our absolute loyalty and focus if we are to walk on the path He’s set out before us.
Life is spiritual and the battle is intense! We are the messengers of the Lord on earth, carrying out our orders from On High. Soldiers in battle are acutely aware of the dangers and keep their senses keenly alert. A moment of lethargy could spell disaster or—death! And that, dear friends, is our life, until the Great and Mighty God calls us home. We don’t have time to love things, money or careers or people more than God.
Hebrews 12:1-4 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.