Fixing America does not begin with politics but with God. Which gods do we worship? Do we worship money, status, our legal system or do we worship the God of heaven?
I want us to understand how breaking the commandment “you shall have no other gods before me” destroys our country and how worship of our triune God is the real answer.
We will look at the Ten Commandments and focus on the one against other gods. Though there are many false gods we could discuss, we will specifically look at the gods of Mammon, status and legalism. We will see how Thomas finally realized the truth about Jesus as “my Lord and my God.”
Counting 10 Commandments
Most people don’t realize that there are at least four different ways of counting the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. Eastern Orthodox and Protestant reckonings are similar, except that Orthodox Christians count the prologue in with the first commandment. Jews separate out the prologue as the first word or commandment. Catholics and Jews both combine the ban on other gods and idolatry into one commandment. Catholics then divide the ban on coveting into two. We must also remember that these passages do not use the term Ten Commandments, but the words. Even other places where our translation reads Ten Commandments, the original language is just the ten words. However we count them, they are wonderful principles which would go a long way to solving any society’s problems. Politics largely discounts these remarkable solutions to fixing our country.
Using the Protestant and Orthodox counting of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) the first contains the words, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This counting separates the first two commandments into bans on gods and idols. The word for gods is Elohim, which is much broader in meaning than our English word. It includes gods, angels, judges and other great and mighty ones. The words do not therefore ban angels, judges or other heroes of our society. They do forbid placing any such individual before the God of heaven. What gods have we placed before the Lord of the Universe? Our politics puts money before God. Our education puts science before God. We put self before God. We put our way of life before God’s way. We have elevated many gods before the God of heaven.
The God of Money
What would a nation look like that does not worship Mammon (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5)? If we used money as a tool instead of worshiping it as a god, how would lives look? Would banks eliminate bloodthirsty fees? Would CEO’s take modest salaries instead of gross excess? Would the pricing of goods and services be fair from the farm to the table? Would politicians focus on doing what’s right instead of money? Would predatory and deceptive pricing be gone? Would employee pay improve because employers are no longer greedy for big money? Would a work week be less stressful, because our needs are satisfied without working overtime or two jobs? Would lawyers and doctors and drug companies charge affordable fees instead of plundering our purses? Would people’s needs come before money? There is such a regime, the kingdom of God.
The God of Status
What would a nation look like where status was not worshiped as a god (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5)? Would people be less valued for their celebrity, clothes, jewelry, cars, yachts, private jets and mansions that they own than the character that clothes them? Would the cars we drive be less important than the integrity that drives us? Would ordinary people be celebrated because they live honest and upright lives? Would fame and fortune be less important than morality and personal sacrifice? Would the genuine love of a family be more important than the hollow cheers of an adoring crowd? Would respect and decency be more important than flashy jewelry and exposed flesh? There is a place where fame and fortune are totally irrelevant. It is a place where righteousness and faith are highly honored. That place is everywhere where God reigns.
The God of Legalism
When crime escalates and dishonest business practices are widespread, we turn to the god of legalism (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5). Can more laws save us? There are so many laws nowadays that recent news reports claim that we all break the law at some point. Our laws have made us a nation of criminals. Ancient Israel had the most perfect law ever devised, without corruption, given by God. However, it became a god that was worshiped more than the God who gave it. It became ineffective and burdensome because it was applied in the letter and not the spirit. It also failed because the people failed. Just as our laws make us all criminals, so too did the Old Testament law make us all sinners. There is a solution to law, but for that we must go to the Gospels.
Failing the No-Other-Gods Test
The law about no other gods (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5) is wonderful. Why is it so impossible to keep? The Sermon on the Mount reveals that if we have thought wrongfully in our hearts, it is the same as if we have done wrong. With that being the criteria we all fail. We have all had other gods before God. We have all put money ahead of God. We have worshiped celebrities as Saviors before Jesus. We have thought, “There ought to be a law against ...!” But, the real answer is a change of heart, repentance. The answer lies in what Thomas realized in John 20:19-31 [read aloud]. When we see Jesus as “My Lord and my God” and that it comes by faith, then we will understand salvation. Let us worship our triune God because no other deserves the honor.
We are so tempted to place other gods before the true God. Money, which is a mere tool, we worship as a god. Status, which is nothing but a delusion, is a god we worship. In trying to solve crime which starts in the heart, we have created so many laws that we are all now criminals. Fixing America does not start in the political arena, but in repentant hearts of faith. We need to get back to worship of the true God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — in him alone is national salvation and no other. Fixing America begins at home in each and every individual's heart.