The One Thing You Must and Can't Get Right
From the outset of the 10 Commandments we are given the indication that these were not given as a means for us to become or to remain saved and in God's favor. This is not a checklist.
We know this because no one has successfully moved beyond the primary command to worship only the one, true God.
In his Large Catechism, Luther explains that "a god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need."
So, I ask you: to whom or what do you turn when seeking refuge? From whom or what do you receive all good?
Idolatry is a strong, but illuminating term once our minds transform images of golden calves and totems into actual objects of our devotion. Idols can be good or bad things. A good-thing can become a god-thing and often becomes no-thing if we look to it for ultimate goodness and deliverance.
Timothy Keller writes,
A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought. It can be family and children, or career and making money, or achievement and critical acclaim, or saving ‘face’ and social standing. It can be a romantic relationship, peer approval, competence and skill, secure and comfortable circumstances, your beauty or your brains, a great political or social cause, your morality and virtue, or even success in the Christian ministry. When your meaning in life is to fix someone else’s life, we may call it ‘co-dependency’ but it is really idolatry. An idol is whatever you look at and say, in your heart of hearts, ‘If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.’ ~Timothy Keller, Counterfeit Gods, xvii-xviii
The key to remember is who is the God issuing the commandments to Moses? Exodus 20:2, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery." The God who commands total devotion is the God who liberates.
Many gods promise freedom, but show themselves to be "lovers less wild" when trouble strikes. But with our fingertips, however feebly, we can point to the Risen Christ and see "the last God standing."