You Shall Have No Other Gods before Me

A meditation by Michael Pahl on February 16, 2020, called “You Shall Have No Other Gods before Me.” It’s a reflection on 1 Corinthians 8:1-6, which is echoing Exodus 20:1-6 and Deuteronomy 6:4-9.

Here is a written excerpt from the conclusion:

But how can we know the one true and living God?

1 John 4 gives some help. “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God,” John declares there, “for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Indeed they have.

But how do we discern “the spirit that is from God”? This spirit, John says, confesses Jesus, Jesus come in the flesh as Messiah to bring about God’s reign on earth through love.

“God is love,” the Elder John goes on to say in 1 John 4. “Whoever does not love does not know God.” But “if we love one another,” he says, if we love one another in the way of Messiah Jesus, then “God lives in us.” The invisible God becomes visible among us.

God is love. The best way to know God, then, is to love. The more we resist Jesus’ call to love, the further we will get from God. The more we embrace Jesus’ call to love, and strive to follow this call, to love God with our whole being and our neighbours as ourselves, the closer we will get to God.

This is a kind of “knowing” that is a “knowing of the heart.” We truly come to know God the more our heart aligns with God’s heart, God’s heart of love.

And then, as Paul puts it so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 8:3, we will not only know God, we “will be known by God.”

May we all become good Christian atheists: discerning and rejecting the gods of our age, refusing to bow down to power and privilege, prosperity and security, violence and greed. And may we all become good Christian theists: loving God in the way of Jesus, by loving others as ourselves, and so making God visible among us and being fully known by God.

And may we be assured that the God who redeemed Israel out of slavery in Egypt, the God who suffered in solidarity with sinners and outcasts in Jesus on the cross—the God who is love—is with us, every step of the way. Amen.

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