Q: What is required in the first commandment?
A: The first commandment requires us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.
1 Chronicles 28:9 And you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will cast you off forever.
So much of this week's question has been covered by previous catechism questions. Last week we already examined what God is expecting from us here, and how that is extremely difficult to do given the idolatry in our hearts. If you remember, way way back in the second question of the catechism, we talked about how the Bible alone is to be our guide for how to glorify God. His holy scriptures tell us how to worship and glorify God as the only true God. So as I sit here thinking over this question, thinking about how I can write something new and fresh about all this, my mind keeps going in a direction that is less an exegesis of the catechism, and more of a point of application, particularly in light of current events and this week's scripture passage.
The catechism this week has a tremendous line in it. Not only are we to know and acknowledge God as the one true God, we are to know and acknowledge him as our God. That kind of language is extremely personal. It's covenantal. It's relational. It reminds us that the one true God is our God, and we are his people. I think its safe to say that this week, all of us are feeling a little rattled. In light of what happened in Paris this past weekend, we are all understandably nervous, a little scarred, a little on edge, angry, and a whole lot of other emotions that are to be expected in light of a tragedy. For the people of God, though, the fact that God is relational, that he is our God, should bring us hope and comfort. What does it mean to know and acknowledge God as our God? It's certainly not merely a head-knowledge, and it's certainly not a mere verbal profession of who God is. Rather, it is a trust in the fact that God is our God. It's a humble reliance upon God. It creates in us a hope that we are in relationship with the one and only living and true God. Does that not encourage and lift our hearts? As we go about our lives in light of the Paris attacks, as we think about the plotting and scheming of radical Islamic terrorists world wide, we as the people of God have a hope and encouragement that can only come from knowing and loving the one true God. Look at what God says to Solomon in this week's scripture reference: "For the Lord searches all hearts, and knows every plan and thought." It's a reminder that God is completely and utterly sovereign. Man holds no authority or power, he can make no plans and he can accomplish nothing unless the Lord God allows it. God alone is God. ISIS is not God, the US is not God, we are not God. God alone is completely sovereign and just and is carrying out his great and perfect will. And this completely sovereign, true and living God is our God!
As we think about the events of this past weekend, as we reflect on the implications of the events, as we think about the refugee crisis and what it may mean to us as many Syrian refugees come to American shores, let us rest in knowing that we serve the one and only living and true God. Let us not make idols out of our fear. Let us not make gods out of those who wish to destroy the body. Rather, let us rejoice in knowing that God is the only true God, and that he is our God. And when we rest in this reality, we can have confidence in obeying God's commands. We can have confidence in following God's law to love him with all our heart, strength, soul, and mind, and we can have confidence in loving our neighbors (and our enemies!) as ourselves. In doing so, we truly will be keeping the first commandment. We truly will be living lives that glorify and worship God as the only true and living God.