The first commandment states in Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” The Heidelberg Catechism says in question and answer 95 that “Idolatry is having or inventing something in which one trusts in place of or alongside of the only true God, who has revealed himself in the Word.” The topic of this commandment is a touchy subject because everyone has that person or thing that they hold very highly in their lives. This becomes even harder when talking about sports and athletes. Everyone has that player that he idolizes. Athletes of this day and age are praised by men far more than God is praised. I can say that this is a struggle for me also. The first commandment is something that not only the world struggles with, but it also hits home to me because sometimes I make sports a priority in my life. I must be reminded to put sports and athletes where they belong and bring God to the center of my life.
The world makes gods of athletes and sports every single day. Men and women are paid millions of dollars to run around on a field tackling people or throwing a ball. The athletes get whatever they want in the world. There are entire television and radio shows dedicated to informing the world about what is happening in sports every day. On these shows, announcers talk about how athletes performed in their sport and praise them for it. Athlete’s faces are put on commercials to entice people into buying products. Little kids run around trying to imitate their favorite player and be just like them.
A classic example of the world worshiping an athlete is LeBron James. He is known as “The King” by the whole sports world. He walks around and acts like he owns every building that he walks into. People will do anything for him. Everyone in the world knows his name and talks about him as if he were a god. Another example is Michigan University’s head football coach, Jim Harbaugh. Michigan fans call him “The Savior of Michigan.” He is supposed to end all troubles that Michigan might have on the football field.
This is wrong because people are making an idol out of men. LeBron James is not a king. The Lord is our king. He alone is to be praised. The news media is saying that a man is equal to God when they call Jim Harbaugh the savior of Michigan. They are putting their trust in someone other than God. Jim Harbaugh cannot control providence; only God can do that. The idolization of these two men is exactly what the first commandment is talking about.
The first commandment affects me personally, not because of a specific player or coach, but because I think about running too much. Running is often on my mind, and it has become a god to me. I look at times that other high school runners have run, and I make it my only goal to beat them. It consumes more of my time than it should. I lose focus as to where running fits on the importance scale in my life; it becomes higher than godly things.
There is nothing wrong with running; in fact, it is very good for me. But when it is all that I think about, then I am violating the first commandment. This is a horrible sin because I am putting running above God. When I start thinking about running during church or school, then I need to tone it down and put it in its rightful place. I also look at other runners, and think about how cool they are because they can run fast. I look at record holders, and think that they must be worth something because they can run fast, but they are not. Compared to God, they are worth nothing.
The first commandment is a command to worship God alone and not make other gods. It is a violation of the first commandment to put trust in anything that is not God. If someone even thinks about something more than God, he is in violation of the first commandment. Why would anyone want to put his trust in anything other than God? He alone is infallible and all powerful.
The comfort of the first commandment is that God is more powerful than everything else. God will protect those who put their trust in him. Nothing will happen to you that is not in his will. God saves his people from their sins. Whatever someone puts his trust in, whether it be a sport or an athlete, cannot save him from his sins. It does not make sense to worship someone or something that is fallible, when you can worship God who is infallible. Does anyone want his salvation to rest in the hands of a person?
Do not get caught up in Sports Center or other media sources that will tell you that your god is a player on the television. The world needs to be careful with the sports in their own lives, but I need to be just as careful. The devil uses these gods to try to pull God’s people out of the church. Do not be deceived by the world, but put your trust in Jehovah God. Jesus says in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”