All the Gods of the Nations

Isaiah 45:1-7
Psalm 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
Matthew 22:15-22

 

Great is Yahweh, worthy of all praise,

More awesome than any of the gods.

All the gods of the nations are idols! NJB

Civilization began about 5,000 years ago. It was a time when wandering people found places along rivers where grain was available, and they decided to build permanent houses. Because food was more readily available, they had time to devote to religion. Nomadic people carried gods with them, but in a settled environment, they decided there must be a god who was specific to that place. They continued to worship all the old gods while placing their city god above the others.

God chose the Hebrews to carry the message to the world that there is only one God. They struggled with the concept, but after Babylon took to it with determination, if not perfection. By the time of Jesus, there was no open worship of other gods within Judea or Galilee, but secret worship did occur to some extent.

Today, worship of national gods occurs, even within Christian churches in America. Witness the struggles that divide our country along the lines of abortion, women’s rights, minority rights, political parties, military power, support for the poor, and others.

Notice with all these that Christians are often the most outspoken, and that they take differing sides. When our support for one side becomes a religion, we have set up a new god.

What is the difference between being involved in the world and worshiping a god of the world? If you find yourself spending as much time on the issue as you do in communion with God, you may have divided religious loyalties.

For example, the two basic sides politically in America are represented by the Republican and Democratic parties. There are small splinter and subgroups, but those two run the country. In some churches, it is dangerous to declare membership in the Democratic party. Only the Republican party is on the side of God. In other churches, the Republicans believed to want to send all the poor to Hell.

When we forget that each side is partially right, that neither side gets it perfectly right, that we must work out a compromise that both sides can live with; only then can our political system do what it is supposed to do.

Jesus was neither a Democrat nor a Republican, and probably would be neither if he walked with us today. For him, as it should be for us, America is of little importance. We only live here for a short time, and we must participate in life here as best we can, but our real lives and loyalties belong elsewhere.

What is important while we live here is the well-being of all 7.5 billion people who share this planet with us. If I can vote for people who are respectful of everyone, then I am doing the best I can in this country. Mostly, I vote for candidates who show compassion on many, but rarely all people.

Read my comments on these NT readings here.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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