eMeditation on the Bible
Question: Why does the first of the Ten Commandments instruct us to only worship the true and living God, I AM WHO I AM, and no other god (Exodus 20:3); and how do we do that?
When Jesus was asked to identify the most important of all the commandments, he stated, "Love God without reservation and love your neighbor as yourself." Then Jesus said, "This is the foundation for all God's commands." This teaches us that harmony with heaven is the foundation of harmony on earth. This is the reason that the Ten Commandments begin with our relationship with God. Loving God and loving our neighbors go together and cannot be separated from each other. Such love is produced by the spiritual maturity that grows within a relationship with God. As we receive God’s love, our hearts are increasingly transformed so we are able to love God and others more deeply. Thus, the love needed for social harmony is a spiritual result of a relationship with God, the basis of which is the worship of God.
How do we worship God in the way that brings us into a harmonious relationship with God?
1. We begin by recognizing that God is completely unique in the universe because God is the Source of life and all the good things needed to thrive and enjoy life: sunshine, air, water, and food; the beauty of nature; our intellect and ability to learn and invent technology; our capacity for creativity in music, art and storytelling; friendships and family relationships; and the spiritual capacity for a relationship with God that gives us meaning and purpose.
2. Next, we respond to God as the Source of life who loves us by: (a) giving God our gratitude and highest loyalty; (b) making harmony with God the highest priority in our life; (c) entrusting our life to God; (d) submitting to God as the Ruler of our life; and (e) developing a lifestyle that makes room for spiritual growth.
3. Of course, loyalty to God guides us to appropriate loyalty and obedience to others, such as our parents, governing authorities and employers. But loyalty to others must always be guided by the values of God’s family, which are the basis for social harmony.
Respond by Growing
Consider how you can develop a more harmonious relationship with God by strengthening your love for and loyalty to God. Determine what “gods” may be competing with God to be the highest priority in your life. These gods can be anything in which you place your ultimate hope and trust instead of God. Examples include money, the stock market, real estate, material possessions, social status, academic and career ladders of success, food and pleasure, and anything that rules you by becoming the center of our life.
All these “things” should be your servants or tools for a well-balanced life that flourishes with well-being. However, when you become the servant of one or more of life’s “tools,” your life goes “out of balance.” Then you need to establish harmony in your relationship with God. Adjust your priorities so that you live by the values of God’s family as a loyal spiritual son or daughter.
eMeditation on the Bible
Question: Why does the second of the Ten Commandments forbid making images of God, such as statues or pictures?
God is the Creator and Source of everything that exists; thus, God transcends nature. Because God is spirit, God is invisible. Although God gives us the ability and opportunity to have a relationship with God, we are not able to fully comprehend God; thus, mystery surrounds God.
Humans have a strong tendency to represent invisible, mysterious realities through objects and pictures of visible things that are familiar to them. Ancient people often did this by carving statues of familiar creatures – such as birds, reptiles, animals and humans – to bring the gods closer by making them visible.
(1) Since God is the Creator and Source of life who transcends nature, God’s prohibition on making images of God protects us from confusing God with the things God created. When statues and other objects are worshiped, they eventually replace the True and Living God in the worshipers’ minds.
(2) Making an image of God implies knowledge of the invisible God that exceeds the human capacity to fully understand God. Therefore, the prohibition on making images of God preserves the mystery of God, who is the Creator and, therefore, very different from created beings. This mystery does not prevent us from experiencing a deep connection with God; however, we must never presume to fully know the mind and ways of God.
The Bible teaches that God has fulfilled the human desire for a visible image of the invisible God by giving us Jesus. The actions, attitudes and teachings of Jesus are a visible reflection of God’s heart and mind. Jesus is the living image of God; the presence of God in a human being.
Respond by Growing
(1) Since Jesus is the living image of God, obtain the knowledge you need to guide your relationship with God by learning about the life and teachings of Jesus in the Bible.
(2) If you find visual imagery helpful, Jesus can be a focal point for you when you pray and worship God. You do not need to carve statues of animals to bring God near to you by making God visible. God may be experienced as closer and more accessible to you when you include Jesus in the focus of your attention and mental imagery during prayer and worship.