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Context

Exodus Chapter 19 - 20

One of the big differences between the OT and the NT

18 Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood afar off. 19 Then they said to Moses, “You speak with us, and we will hear; but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”

20 And Moses said to the people, “Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” 21 So the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near the thick darkness where God was.

Questions to Start off Discussion

  • Why is this the first commandment?
  • Why is it important to have no other gods before me?
  • What does it mean to have other gods?
  • Can you give me example of other gods in our lives
  • How do these other gods cause us problems?
  • Do we know who God is?
  • What does it mean to know God?
    • Know his love
    • know his mercy
    • know his worship
      • How do we worship?
  • Do we remember or can enumerate what God has done for us?

Worship of People

We live in an age where we are encouraged to listen to "experts"; to trust the "experts" without exercising our own discernment, our own thinking. But thinking and discernment are like any muscle in your body. If you don't exercise them, then they become weak and feeble. We seem to agree with that in almost all things in our life, but when it comes to our own intellects and spirituality, we neglect this fact. If we do not think, research and be truly convinced with what we believe, then our belief is weak and dependent on other people around us. Once we're isolated and alone then we can easily crumble due to any contradicting thought.

Does this mean we rebel? We have to be careful of extremes. We shouldn't just be going around disagreeing with everything and questioning everything, just for the sake of questioning. But we should delve into a topic to gain a better understanding. Our pursuit of knowledge should be in humility. Again a lot of the time we misunderstand humility. For example if you hear a person X who has a specific rank in the church say a piece of information, but you're just not convinced with that. Some will tell you, well if you don't agree with them then you're proud and not humble. I do not think we're obliged to agree with everything blindly. And that's where our thinking and discernment will come in handy.

The way we discover a specific topic has to be in the pursuit of truth and not to satisfy my own self. For example, if someone says something obvious like smoking is bad for you. Say for whatever reason you don't agree with that. You're completely within your right to disagree, but not just for the sake of disagreeing. I don't disagree just cause I like smoking, then I argue weak points, like I only smoke once a week, or I don't smoke that much, or I use a filter, etc, etc. In this case you're trying to justify your own shortcomings.

The same principle can be applied to any spiritual topic or any theology. You might hear something, which you don't agree with. I have to first look in myself and ask, do I not agree with this due to legitimate reason or is it to justify something which I don't want to stop doing? If it's the first, then you're in pursuit of truth. You should ask, and read and go back to the history and study, until you're convinced with something. Then take what you studied and talk to your guide and compare what he says with what you have studied. Ideally, he'd give you more resources to look at.

Our belief is not based on nothing. It's based on the bible and based on centuries of teaching. So whatever is told to us, should be traceable back to the bible and the teachings of the church. These two should not contradict each other.

But even then, we should understand that there are specific topics which could have different opinions. You could read from two different source about the same topic and they could both be respectable sources, yet they could give you a different interpretation of the same thing. And that plurality of opinions is okay. As long as it doesn't touch the core of the faith.

For example people can differ on eschatology and could have different interpretation of the eschatological text in the bible, but they shouldn't have a difference of opinion about the nature of the Trinity or the Divinity of Christ for example.

Conclusion

  • It is important to exercise your discernment and thinking
  • You can only do that by actually taking topics and delving into them deeper, asking questions, doing your own research
  • It's okay to disagree with someone even if they are smarter or an "expert". There is nothing wrong with asking them to prove themselves. If they are really an expert it shouldn't be difficult
  • Let your pursuit of knowledge always be in humility, or in other words let your pursuit always be to the truth. Because seeking truth can not be done except in humility. After all Truth is something outside of ourselves, and many times we have to deny ourselves and our pride to accept the truth.

References

http://ekladious.com/Grade9/No%20Other%20God.doc