First Word

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.” (Deut. 5:6-7)

First, God. God’s presence in the present, the now, is where we also are present, the condition in which we live, we and our family and friends, our neighbors and the strangers who are among us, and, yes, our enemies. This is the neighborhood. And this God who lives here is about to tell us what to do. But his command does not come out of a vacuum; it comes from a rich, storied context of salvation from slavery. Before he tells us what to do, he tells us what he has done: he has saved us from a live of slavery. We are no longer slaves who have no choice in what we do or do not do. We are free to say yes or no. Our freedom is a gift of God’s salvation. Do we understand this? The we are ready to hear his first word: you shall have no other gods before me. Our choice.

Our choice, because God, having set us free, is not going to violate our freedom now by imposing himself upon is. The community in which we live is not formed by coercion. Nobody has to live here with these others whom God has saved. On the other hand, if we want to live in community, this is the first condition: God without rivals, God without secretly holding in to other options.”

Eugene H. Peterson, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, pp.253-254

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