Reflections: January 13, 2021
Wednesday of the First Week after the Epiphany
by William K. Stottlemyer
Thou shall have no other gods before Me. (Small Catechism: First Commandment)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In theory, this commandment seems like a simple thing to do. Luther tells us to "fear, love, and trust in God above all things." If we do this, we have fulfilled the commandment. It sounds easy, yet every day we build gods of stone, wood, and paper, bowing down to the material things made by the hands of man. We serve inanimate objects that are easily destroyed by rust and decay. We place these things ever before us and look to them for all good in our lives. We offer sacrifices to them, giving them our time, our attention, and our resources.
Your life is full of such idols, from the likes you crave on social media to the latest and greatest stuff that you cannot live without. These gods will not provide for you. They cannot help you in time of need, they do not listen to your prayers, and they most certainly will not save your soul from hell.
The truth laid out in the First Commandment is quite simple. There is only one God in heaven. He alone created and still sustains all things. We exist only because the Word that became flesh, Jesus Christ, continues to speak into this world of darkness and death. He is God, and we are to have no other. It is only by God's grace that we are able to knock down our false gods and see the truth. By faith we can confess that we do not follow the First Commandment as we should, that we have failed to do what God demands, and that we need help.
Jesus is our help. He alone fulfilled the First Commandment. He alone takes our sin. It is His suffering and death on the Cross that has enabled us to receive God's mercy. We are forgiven because of Jesus, and by the power of the Spirit given to us in Baptism, we are by daily contrition and repentance able to turn away from false idols and look to God alone. For there is no other god. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Eternal God, You teach me and ask me to rely on You in all things. It is Your earnest desire to be my God. Therefore, I must regard You as God or suffer the loss of eternal salvation. My heart shall neither build nor rely on anything else, whether it be property, honor, wisdom, power, purity, or any other creature. Amen. (Martin Luther, The Lord Will Answer, [Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 2004], 55.)
-Rev. William K. Stottlemyer is the pastor of St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hancock, MD.
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