OTHER GODS IN THE LIFE OF A BELIEVER
If you are a believer living in India, it is only normal to link 'other gods' to everything that people from a Hindu, Buddhist or any other faith follow. The Hindus, in particular, worship innumerable gods and hence 'pluralism' is not an issue, from their point of view. Do we as believers in Jesus have 'other gods' that come in the way of our relationship with Him? Does the way we live our day-to-day lives reflect that we truly do not have any other gods? The question I ask is, "How does this commandment apply to me?" Deuteronomy 11:16 says, "Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them."
Relationship With God
We live in times where who we are in terms of our work life determines the status we have in society. Our quest to be recognised by others has caused us to pursue success passionately and tirelessly in the corporate world. Many are forced to work extra hours and often end up even having to take work home to finish before bed time. Having to travel frequently to domestic and international destinations on work has become very common. Husbands and wives now need to match their diaries to plan events and time together! Has all this reached a point where it has come to affect our family lives, our health and maybe, even our relationship with God?
The family model today of two incomes works well to support our unending desire for the best things that the world can offer. Bigger homes, latest electronic gadgets, expensive cars, exotic holiday destinations, investment options, etc., are all within our reach. It is surprising how technology today forces us to upgrade everything so quickly. If it is not the parents, who have an eye for these things, the children ensure that we keep up with the Joneses. Competition in these matters is no less among church members. Have we been deceived to a point where we have let these things take precedence over God?
We are today on the run all the time. We are constantly complaining of fatigue, stress and being over-worked. There are more tasks to complete, with less or no time available to accomplish them. In the midst of all this, making any time for personal or family devotion is a far cry. Even if this were to happen, it could end up being a chore rather than a time where we approach it with sincerity and longing to spend time with God. Other than the time we spend at church on a Sunday, does the pattern of our lives demonstrate the lordship of Jesus?
The opportunities we have today in the modern world have resulted in many achieving success at an intellectual level. Our knowledge, specialisation and unique capabilities in different fields have given us a respect and reputation in society. This could result in many considering themselves to be superior to others, stemming from an inflated self-esteem. Are we humble enough to acknowledge all that we are is because of His goodness? Has our self-importance resulted in it being a hindrance in our relationship with God and His people? In some cases we could be people who spend a fair bit of time engaging in and co-ordinating church and ministry- related activities. This may give us a sense of importance within ourselves about how good and valuable we are to the church and God. It is surprising how the devil can, in a very subtle way, use these things to make us consider ourselves more highly and righteous than others? Is it possible that, as the years progress, we tend to hold on to our positions and titles, rather than remembering that we are there to serve the Lord and His people?
Couples who fall apart may find fault with each other to explain their incompatibility. The reason, in fact, could be their unwillingness to recognise that it was pride, ego or something else which has taken centre stage in their lives that has caused this downfall. Very similar to our earthly marriages, God's desire is for us to be set apart solely for Him. There is and should not be any room for competition. Moving away from this will cause a strain in the relationship, for sure.
Hebrews 12:1 says, "Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Let each one of us examine ourselves, as to what is 'that sin which so easily ensnares us.' Let us desire to take necessary remedial action where change is required. Let us spur one another to passionately follow and honour God, in every facet of our lives. Our actions and choices today will affect our tomorrow and eternity.
The way we conduct and live our lives is the loudest testimony that we can offer the world. I believe this is what St. Francis of Assisi meant when he said, "Preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words."
The Bible says, "You shall have no other gods before Me."