Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sermon preview--The Second Commandment

A couple of weeks ago, I spent all day Saturday at the George R Brown at an event called Comicpalooza. This is an annual convention for fans of comic books, anime, sci-fi, and other related entertainments. Why was I there? Because my daughter wanted to go, and I love her. But the last time I was more out of my element, I had walked into a women’s restroom by mistake. There were several thousand people at the GRB. At least 1/3 of them were dressed as some superhero or another. Of the rest, most at least had on some kind of fan gear. And by the way, these weren’t kids, for the most part. I’d say the median age in that place was around 35. Occasionally I would see someone who looked fairly normal, and I’d be tempted to take him aside and say, “Have you ever seen so many weirdos in one place in your life?” But I was afraid he would produce a magic wand and change me into a toad or something. Then again, while I was feeling all smug and judgmental, it occurred to me that if someone from another civilization—like say, Moses—was to attend a football game with me, he might have much the same response. He’d see thousands of people—many of them well-lubed from a pre-game tailgate party—screaming and shouting, alternating between violent anger and ecstatic exhubrance, some of them with painted faces or painted bodies, singing ritualistic songs, and he’d conclude he was participating in the rites of some strange cult that worships an oblong brown object. There are a lot of things we do that seem like worship. Some people, mostly men, give up their precious time off and spend lots of money so that they can ride in a magic cart, whacking a magic ball with one of a bag of magic sticks. And when the magic ball goes into the water, they say magic words! (Curiously, the magic ball does not reappear) Some other people, mostly women, offer costly sacrifices at the altars of gods called Prada and Nordstrom and Saks and Ikea. They spend money they don’t have on stuff they don’t need, with a great deal of faith that these magical items will bring them joy and fulfillment.

My point is that if someone observed our lives objectively, they might have a difficult time determining what it is we truly worship. What is worship, after all? It is delighting in something, rejoicing in something, so much so that we will sacrifice to it, make it our identity and source of fulfillment. And what we worship determines the course of our lives. That’s why when God was creating a new nation during the Exodus, in giving His chosen people their code by which to live—the Ten Commandments—He starts with two consecutive commands that govern our worship. Last week we looked at the first commandment, which is about keeping God first in your life. This week, we'll look at the second commandment, found in Exodus 20:4-6.

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