Q: What is the first commandment?
A: The first commandment is: You shall have no other gods before Me.
We discussed in Children’s Church today what a “god” is and how you might place a “god” before God. It comes down to the value you place on something, anything. A god is something you worship, something you obey, something you think is really, really important.
It harks back to the previous catechism question. You might find this god to have objective value–that it is worthy for its own sake–it is “Lord”. You might find it to have personal value–that you have a special relationship to it–it is “your God.” Or you might find it to have redemptive or salvific value–that it had or has aided you in a cardinal way, that it has taken you yourself from less to worthy.
We used the analogy of parents. In fairly functional families, and even in most dysfunctional ones, we love our parents and will acknowledge their importance to our lives. We know that there are ample reasons to heed their authority give them honor. And yet, we also know that we frequently take them for granted and let more immediate priorities overtake our attention and desires. As kids, specifically, we sometimes treat our toys or friends like they’re more important than our parents.
Idolatry is a key concept in understanding our sin, and we should, as families, start an ongoing discussion about what can sometimes be the idols in our lives. Let us be frank about our own idols, and how placing unwarranted value on even good things can lead to our own bad behavior. And let us help our kids trace back their fears, tantrums, and deception back to warped worship. Furthermore, we should show that the idols themselves are not the ultimate problem; we are. Our little gods are just the mechanism by which we try to make ourselves God. The first commandment is really, to paraphrase Father Cavanaugh from Rudy, “I AM God. You are not.”