It’s My Life, Right?
No, it’s not.
I love great preaching that spurs me to think differently and dig a little deeper. This weekend Pastor Jeff Lucas offered a new (to me) perspective on idolatry and the 2nd commandment.
You shall have no other gods before me.
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:3-6
I knew this was about more than golden calves. I knew idols might disguise themselves as jobs or money or power or anything that becomes first priority.
What’s always troubled me was the “jealous” part about punishing children for the sins of the parents and carrying the curse into succeeding generations. Am I the only one who finds that a bit at odds with God’s character?
Jeff explained that “jealous” actually conveys something more like “passion.” I did a bit of amateur digging — one commentator used the word “zeal.” God is passionate, or zealous, about this issue, and it’s not because He needs our worship.
He’s passionate because He knows the horrible consequences of idolatry — for us, and for everyone around us. The NLT says “the whole family suffers.”
It’s not really about punishment. God’s warning us about what happens when our priorities become distorted. When anything — money, power, drugs — becomes an idol, when alcohol or sex or fame becomes the thing-we-gotta-have, our lives get out of whack. And that spills over to our spouses, our kids, our grandkids. Generations live under the shadow of one person’s idolatry.
God’s passionate about idols because He knows how communities work. He knows we were made to worship Him, and when we get that wrong we spread the infection to others in our circle of influence.
It’s a big deal to God — because we’re a big deal to God. He’s passionate about us, so much that He sent His Son to bring us home.
Who am I hurting? It’s my life, my sin, my personal little idol.
No, it’s not.