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We are going to start a new series today based on the Catechism. Both the Small and the Large Catechisms of Dr. Martin Luther, of blessed and holy memory, are not to be read once and then tossed to the side, but rather should be [art of our daily diet when it comes to the Word of God and prayer.
The 1st commandment is, "You shall have no other gods. What does this mean? We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things." This seems like a simple commandment to keep. We are Christians, are we not? So, we don't worship Allah, or claim to be a follower of Mormonism. We aren't Jewish, nor do we hold to the teachings of Buddha. We can just move on to the other commandments, because this one is pretty simple to keep, in that all we have to do is not worship some false god.
However, a god is not just something from different religions, but rather is a condition of the heart. As Luther put it, "Therefore, I repeat, to have a God properly means to have something in which the heart trusts completely" (Large Catechism I.10). So, to worship another god doesn't just mean switching to a different religion, but rather it means that you and I fear, love, and trust something with all of our heart. Maybe it's something as innocent as time with our family, or even as sinister as pornography. Maybe it's just those few minutes in the car before you go into work, or it's stealing money from your company so you can beef up your retirement. Maybe it's the Astros or Rangers, or betting on Baseball to the point where you drain your life savings. In short, a god comes in many forms, but the thing that remains the same is you. Take money for example, you either have it or you don't. We either have great sums of money, or our pockets are empty. However, there is never enough or there is always a lack. The heart either trusts in the abundance of money, or fears because of the lack thereof. Our bellies create the god that it wants, so the greatest god we all worship is our belly. We want a god that will serve us and fulfill all our desires. Rather than fear, love, and trust in God completely, we trust in the things of this world, love them the most, and fear losing them more than anything. Lord Have Mercy!
For, my friends, this commandment smacks us in the face and calls us to repentance. It calls us to be faithful, and we are not. Let us not waste time justifying our existence before God and our neighbor, and instead let us repent that our joy may be full. For when God commands us to fear, love, and trust in Him above all things, He is declaring to us that He is our God that we can fear, love and trust in above all things. God does not command us to obey simply because He needs someone to worship Him. No. God gives these commands because He desires us to walk in purity and to know that He is our God that claims us. For who is the God that we fear, love, and trust above all things? It is not a god of wrath, or a deist god that makes us and then sets us on our way. No, the God we fear, love, and trust above all things is the Father who created us, the Son who redeems us, and the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us. We fear, love, and trust the God who saves us and loves us. When God commands us to trust Him, it is because He is the God who can be trusted, who never breaks His promises. In this, we desire to keep this commandment, not because we believe that we will in doing so merit salvation, but rather it is in response to receiving the gift of Jesus mercy in the forgiveness of our sins. When we break this commandment, which we do on a daily basis, Jesus does not hold it against us, but absolves us and covers us in His righteousness that He won for us on the cross. This is the God we trust in, because He is the only God that never breaks His promise to love us and save us. My friends, we do not trust in our ability to keep this commandment, but rather we trust in the reality that Jesus kept it perfectly for us and died in our stead on the cross in order that we may be forgiven every time we do break this first and chief commandment. So, Jesus forgives our belly, our heart, our mind, our will, and creates us anew in the words of Holy Absolution. Thanks be to God for that.
Peace be with you. May the devil be silenced, the world be hushed, and the Old Adam be drowned anew so that you hear only the voice of your Savior Jesus who says, "I am your God, the God of mercy who saves you. Trust in Me, for there is no deceit in My words, you are forgiven, your are Mine forever," Amen.