When we think about the 10 Commandments, the first commandment is one that we can oftentimes gloss over. We read, you shall not have other gods besides me and we think we’ve got that covered. We don’t worship Zeus or the sun god, so we must have moved beyond that commandment. That was for people in the Old Testament times, not us.
But though our gods may look different, we can still find ourselves making idols of the things around us. Recently on St. Joseph’s Workshop, Fr. Matthew Spencer, OSJ pointed out how not much has changed in human nature since the time of Moses. He said:
“We as individuals have this tendency to worship that which is not God. Be it false idols made out of gold, false idols in the form of entertainers, false idols in the form of our satisfaction and the desires that we seek out.
We find it difficult sometimes to understand the Old Testament. For example, Moses brought his people out of Egypt, he turned them away from their idols. Moses goes up Mount Sinai, receives the Ten Commandments, comes down the mountain after a short time, and what does he find? That the people had reverted back to idolatry.
They had crafted out of their own hands another idol to worship – a golden calf. And to our minds, it sounds so ridiculous. How could they be so dense? How could they worship a golden calf? You and I read that and we think, ‘We would never do that! I would never bow down before a golden statue. I would never worship something made by human hands.’ And yet, we do.
We do, because we still sin. And we create idols out of things in the world. I think, ‘Look at my life. I’m still a sinner. I still make idols out of things.’ It’s not golden calves, per se. But it’s my own plans that I put before God. It’s my own wishes that I put before Him. It’s my choices. This is what happens in every sin.
In fact, in a certain way we could say that every sin is a form of idolatry. We’re worshipping ourselves. We’re taking God out of the place where He should have the sole-focus of our life, and we decide to become selfish and worship something else. We worship ourselves, we worship other people, we worship money, you name it. We’re still doing it, even after all these millenia. We’re still worshipping false idols.
And I see it as an invitation. Maybe you and I look at this culture and think, ‘This is crazy. How can people do this?’ Well, it’s because you and I fall into the same trap. At a different level, maybe, but you and I personally need to evaluate how we fall into sin. How am I creating idols in this world, and then falling down and worshipping them?”
Listen to the full reflection below: