This month, I am going to revisit the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). It is easy for me to claim Christianity and then go through the motions of my faith. I lose focus of the basics of my beliefs. The first two commandments are both centered on worship.
Commandment 1 – No other gods, only me. Exodus 20:3 MSG
Commandment 2 – No carved gods of any size, shape, or form of anything whatever, whether of things that fly or walk or swim. Don’t bow down to them and don’t serve them because I am God, your God, and I’m a most jealous God, punishing the children for any sins their parents pass on to them to the third, and yes, even to the fourth generation of those who hate me. But I’m unswervingly loyal to the thousands who love me and keep my commandments. Exodus 20:4-6 MSG
The “idea” that God doesn’t want us to worship anyone or anything besides Him isn’t really a foreign concept. It was the commandment that Eve broke before the commandments were ever written in stone. In Genesis, God created everything for Adam and Eve to enjoy. They should not have longed for anyone or anything else. They had God to themselves and everything God had ever created at their disposal. They had the purest form of worship. No distractions or need for anything else to satisfy. Enter the enemy who presented another idol to worship: What if there was something more that God was keeping from you? What if there was something you could have but God didn’t want you to have? Adam and Eve turned their worship away from God to the one thing they couldn’t have. The result? God made them leave.
The Israelites were descendants from Abraham. They were enslaved in Egypt surrounded by the worship of false Gods. God heard the cries of a tortured people and led them safely out of Egypt. He brought them to Mt. Sinai and provided them with an abundance of food and water. God catered to their every need after freeing them from generations of bondage. The Israelites owed God their lives and the lives of the generations after them. God had a covenant to fulfill. He had promised Abraham that his descendants, as numerous as the stars, would have their own land and would be a great nation. Through Moses, a leader God appointed, He would continue to carry out His promise. Israel camped at the bottom of Mt. Sinai as Moses went up to have a conversation with God. This is when God told Moses the Ten Commandments.
The commandments weren’t a list of rules to restrict the people. They were strict guidelines for living that would help them take hold of God’s promises for them. The Israelites had just been enslaved for generations. In order to become the great nation God intended, they needed some help. The Commandments are in order of importance and progression. You can’t begin to read until you learn the alphabet, identify letters, and know their sounds. We can’t take hold of God’s promises for us until we first learn to worship the provider of those promises. When we keep our focus on God, honoring Him with our lives, our mouths, and our schedules we can honor those around us like our parents and neighbors.
Much like the entire Bible, we live in an age of misplaced worship. The times in my life when my relationships have suffered the most, I have placed my worship on something other than God.
Worship my children > My marriage suffers
Worship my church > My family suffers
Worship social media > My mental peace suffers
Worship drama > My joy suffers
There can be no balance in our lives when our worship is misplaced.
The Israelites had to place their worship on God or they would not be able to take the land He had promised them. They had just come from a land where the Egyptians worship gods of rain, land, food, and water. If they worshipped God and obeyed Him, everything they needed would be given to them. He would bless their land, fields, and crops. If they didn’t keep their focus on Him, they would lose all God had promised them. This became the endless cycle of the Old Testament until to today. Adam and Eve should have worshipped their creator instead of another idol they thought they should have, just as we should worship our creator despite the other distractions that take our attention every day. The Israelites should have worshipped their deliverer as He brought them safely out of bondage and into a new land, just as we should worship our deliverer as we have been given Jesus to free us from the bondage of our sin.
Worship isn’t something you attend once a week at church. It isn’t something we do to get something in return. It is a daily focus and mindset. Worship is everything about God and nothing about ourselves.
I know when my worship is misplaced because I become exhausted trying to keep everything above water. To help refocus and get my worship back on God, I turn on music that focuses on Him. Music that is “me” focused doesn’t turn my heart to Him.* Another thing that helps me worship in the midst of distraction is taking a walk in nature, that God created. Sometimes I walk without earbuds, listening the sounds of nature moving around me. Other times I listen to worship music while I walk.
Is your worship misplaced? God says, “love the Lord your God and worship him with all your heart and all your soul“. He has promises for us just as he had for the Israelites, but in order to receive all he had for us, we have to keep our worship in the right place.