Growing up in a Christian family, with the influences of regular worship, Sunday school and Lutheran schooling, naturally I was familiar from a young age with the Ten Commandments.

The First Commandment sets the tone. ‘You shall have no other gods.’ It was spelt out even more clearly through Luther’s Small Catechism explanation: ‘What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.’

All the other Commandments flowed from it. If we put God first, if he is the Lord of our lives, we shouldn’t have trouble keeping the other 9/10ths of God’s law.

It sounds simple enough. Don’t put your trust in other ‘gods’, or idols, like those recalcitrant Israelites did. The Golden Calf (Exodus 32, 1 Kings 12) and Baal (Numbers 25, Deuteronomy 4) are just two that spring to mind. Or like those first sinners, Adam and Eve, who were tempted by the prospect of being God.

Of course, in addition to not judging others, we need to be wary of putting our faith in things like money and possessions, success and power, and passions, including sport. And then there are music and movie celebrities and sporting ‘gods’ all vying for our adoration.

But, as Rev Dr Michael Lockwood and Pastor Mick Hauser point out in our theme features, the greatest danger we often face when it comes to breaking the First Commandment is even closer to home: the Idol of the Self.

In God’s eyes it’s not wrong to love ourselves – in fact, we should. But not more than God. And not at the expense of loving and serving our neighbours.

It’s worth remembering that examples of material plenty aren’t the only idolatry traps. Elements of our faith lives can be, too. We can make idols of the saints, the church as an institution, the ordained ministry and even Scripture. The list goes on.

Indeed, most of our idols are good gifts from God. They become a gateway to sin when we rank them above him, and they interfere with our relationship with him. Jesus offers the alternative in Luke 10:27, when he says: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.’

As well as looking at idolatry in this edition, we begin the build-up to February’s in-person sessions of General Synod and, as always, are privileged to share encouraging stories, resources and devotional materials. I hope you’ll be blessed by what you read, as I have been as I’ve prepared these stories for you.


Already a subscriber? Click here to login and read this article.
Not a subscriber? Click here to receive stories & upcoming issues in full