The One and Only

The first and second commandments in How Do You Spell God? Answers To the Big Questions From Around the World, by Rabbi Marc Gellman & Monsignor Thomas Hartman are 1. There is just one God! and 2. Don't even think of having another god! These correspond quite nicely with other translations (that are more literal) of the first commandment.

This is something we really don't give a lot of thought to. We take this one for granted. When you're raised in the Christian faith, you're raised to believe that there is one God. What we forget is that we aren't that one God. That job was taken long before we were born.

If we take care of ourselves, if we're "self-made" and "self-sufficient," "we are dethroning God and presuming to rule the world ourselves." (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship) We need to practice "daily, unquestioning acceptance of his gifts." (Bonhoeffer) This means what we have and what we accomplish comes not from us, but from God. When we fail to acknowledge this, we are putting ourselves in the position of God in our lives.

Give credit where credit is due. We've heard it, but do we really do it?

When we, as individuals or nations, dictate who is evil and who is good, do we not play God?

What does the Bible say? It's pretty clear that we are not to judge, and vengeance belongs to God. When we deem who is spiritually weak, we are presuming to have the intimate knowledge that only God can have. It is not our place to judge. It is not our place to presume to judge. Our place is to accept, obey, and love. At the same time. Sincerely. This can be a tall order, but if we focus on this, we don't have time to make ourselves God in any of the ways we can (and certainly, we haven't listed them all).

We don't make God's rules. We don't have the final word, God does. Until you create the universe, you live by God's rules. God's rule is clear. He is God. Period.

You wanna know a secret? If you focus on this commandment alone, you won't have to remember the others, because you'll be all set. No worries, keeping God first keeps you from violating the other commandments. Even the little details. There's a reason it's first. And the reason we wrote about it last is that it's the commandment we violate the most. Day in and day out.

Do we have anything to worry about when we stand before God? Or do we need to work on where our focus is: on God or on ourselves?