I remember the first time I fully understood the 10 commandments, thinking how easy it was to keep them. Of course I would worship only one God. Of course I would honour my father and mother. Of course I would not commit murder, bear false witness or covet. Every time we read them aloud my nine-year-old heart swelled with pride because it believed I follow those commandments to heart. It says something about a child’s innocence doesn’t it?
However, as I grew older, I bore false witness - those moments when I let someone else take the fall for what I had done.
I dishonoured my father and mother when I did things they would not approve of.
I coveted, still covet, every time I wish I had someone else’s car, job and life.
But one commandment I was sure I would never break was “You shall worship no other God but me. You shall not make idols...”
See I didn’t have some ka small god in my closet that I bowed down to. Or some other symbol that I worshipped. In short, I was in the clear. At least there was one commandment I was keeping, I patted my back. And the back patting went on till a few weeks ago when it was brought to my attention that I have been worshipping an idol. Oh how my heart broke.
Coming to the realisation
During a Bible Study class, we read from Jeremiah 10:1-16 and were asked to define what an idol is. Of course, most of us gave the most probable answer --a small god. Till we read that an idol is anything that takes the place of God (Exodus 20:3-4).
Our class leader, Barham Banyenzaki, further explained that as Christians, God should take centre stage in our lives. He should be our Lord in every sense of the word. That person, who we can’t live without. And as he spoke, he asked us to reflect on that thing you believe you can’t live without. When we did, for most of us that was not God. It was everything from a phone and money to boyfriends and children.
For me, it was movies or television to be more precise. Oh how I love them! How were they my idol? They have taken the place God should have. When I’m happy, I watch a movie. Sad, cheer myself up with a movie. I can stay up all night watching TV yet I can’t fathom a whole night of praise and worship, sleep would overtake me.
I can talk about movies, TV series in my sleep. Tell you who directed what and all the movies they have done, in what order, off the top of my head. Tell you who composed the music for a movie or the theme song for a series and even pick out their sound without first reading the credits. But ask me who wrote which books in the Bible and I might have to consult my Bible Study notes. In fact I had to consult the Bible while writing this so that I don’t mix up versus.
Of course, knowing all the books of the Bible by heart doesn’t make me the best Christian this side of the world but it is a start in making God a priority in my life. Through the Word, I’m drawn closer to him.
What it has taught me
On top of finding out the idol I have been worshipping, the class pointed out the consequences of my idolatry. Banyenzaki highlighleted Exodus 20: 4-5 which points out that God is a jealous God. He doesn’t like us having all these other things taking His place in our lives. So sometimes, he destroys them like he did the small gods people worshipped in the Old Testament (Ezekiel 6: 4-6).
I guess that explains why there are days I move to all parts of town looking for a certain movie or series like my life depends on it, only not to find it. Or to find it only for the DVD to be scratched. Or for Umeme to pull a dark one for days on end. It is in those quiet moments when I realise that the escape I’m trying to get from the movie, I can find in a short prayer asking God to give me peace or thanking Him for something.
Finding out what has been taking God’s place in my heart while it filled me with the fear of fire and brimstone falling on my back, also filled me with joy that I know which area in my life I can ask God to intercede. I have learnt what to let go of, however trying, and let God reign supreme.
The bible says...
“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20: 4-6