Most Christians (and probably non-Christians) are familiar with the Biblical teaching not to worship other gods. This instruction appears in the Ten Commandments and is a constant stumbling block for the Israelites throughout the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus urges his followers to give themselves completely to God. The flipside of this is that you can’t give yourself to any other gods. If this was as far as the teaching went, this would probably be a very easy thing for Christians to do. Most Christians I know aren’t tempted to run off and worship Zeus for a couple of days every week. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
By calling for complete devotion, Jesus wasn’t just saying that you can’t follow other gods, he was saying that nothing can take God’s place in your life. Another familiar teaching is that you cannot worship both God and mammon (money). For the purposes of this post, I could substitute in sex, children (from a parent’s point of view), self-image, power, career education…the list goes on. There are so many things in the modern world that clamour for our attention and it’s so easy to invest far too much time and emotion into these things, particularly when we allow them to influence our feelings. If your happiness is based on whether or not your hair looks good, then you probably need to take a step back and have a think. That’s a silly example, but what about education? I know people who will be utterly devastated if they miss out on a grade.
I know that that’s a harder example because missing a grade could affect the rest of your life, but I can’t help but think that life is about so much more than getting the exact grades to get the ‘perfect career’. It’s a never ending cycle. If you obsess with grades now, you’ll never let yourself relax because you’ll always be striving for more. Some people want more money and power and status, but what’s it worth? A poet once wrote that ‘the paths of glory lead but to the grave’. If, as a Christian, you find yourself in this trap, then I strongly recommend reading Ecclesiastes. All is vanity. What are you striving for? And why are you striving for it?
As a Christian, I believe that it is wrong to place anything other than God in the place of highest importance in your life. You may disagree, but for me, there can be nothing better than giving him the glory and striving to please him, rather than stressing myself out striving for meaningless goals. I really think that God knew what he was doing when he commanded us to worship him and nothing else, because he knew that the greatest peace and joy can be found in giving glory to something that truly deserves it. Give glory to the God who will sustain you and never let you down.
The truth is, investing yourself in something that is not God will lead to pain. People let you down, even when they don’t mean to. Money doesn’t make people happy; Australia has one of the highest suicide rates for young men in the world, yet it is also one of the richest, most ‘civilised’ countries. What is the most important thing in your life? Does it deserve to be that important? Don’t dismiss this as a Christian talking rubbish and assume that you’ve got it covered, because even you can make mistakes. I admit, I don’t have it sorted and I doubt that many Christians do, but that doesn’t stop us striving to give God the best we can and encourage others to do the same.
I know this has been blunt, but side-stepping the issue and speaking in euphemisms won’t help anyone. All I’m asking is that you look at what’s most important for you and why it has that status…can anyone afford to waste their life on junk?