Summary: God has told us how He wants us to live our lives; our job is to obey!
1Then God spoke all these words: 2I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before£ me. 4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation£ of those who love me and keep my commandments. 7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. 8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. (NRSV)
Have you seen the commercial with the 800 pound gorilla? A middle-aged couple is trying to sleep while an ape with a laptop computer talks about their retirement.
It’s a pretty silly thing for a couple to have a gorilla sitting on the edge of the bed keeping them from sleeping until they think about the problems of their retirement portfolio. But it’s a great commercial, because it pulls on the reality that people who are over 50 think a lot about retirement, yet they are almost afraid to think about retirement.
An 800 pound gorilla in the room, the picture says it all about the fear of facing our problems…Big problem…no easy solution!
Well, Houston, we have a gorilla in the room at Bethany…and at every other church in the world! It is a gorilla as big and as old as the basic problem of mankind; it goes back to the Garden of Eden. It is the problem of man telling God what he will and won’t do, instead of bowing before God in worship.
Now, even before we talk about the nature of that “gorilla in the room” here at Bethany, I want to declare up-front that the solution to the problem is found in Scripture. God’s Word is our “owner’s manual”. Whatever needs fixing in my life or yours can be found there; there is no gorilla too big for God!
Consider the Text
I am the LORD your God…you shall have no other gods…
When something is said to be “set in stone” you understand that there is no questioning, no changing! The Ten Commandments are such; they are not only set in stone, they were set there by the very finger of God. You don’t fool with that!
You don’t take the commandments of God lightly…unless, of course, you consider yourself above God! Some ignorant or foolish humans might go down that road, but I don’t know too many who would say it too loudly; underneath they fear God might be listening – they’d really be in a pickle then!
That is the very center of the first four commandments:
no other gods,
no foul use of My name,
and keep My DAY for worship.
When God said I am the Lord, He was setting in stone the fact that there are no other gods worthy of worship. He set a fence in posts of stone. On one side of the fence are those who would serve Him and be His family; on the other side stands anyone else.
Now, it needs to be said from the outset that every person gets to choose upon which side of the fence he will stand…that is God’s invitation. Jesus offered that invitation with His life, on the cross:
…and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; John 6:37b (NRSV)
That applies in the church. We are the Lord’s church, and we are to have open doors to go along with open minds and hearts. Those who are standing on the other side of the fence are welcome on God’s side of the fence with His family.
That means anyone is welcome here. But that is not an invitation to a life of privilege; rather it is an invitation to a life of joy with responsibility. This is a restating of an old maxim, with privilege comes responsibility.