The Father who always loves us
“I am the Lord your God,” He says. But who exactly is He? “Our God is the God we encounter through Jesus Christ,” says the Chief Apostle and goes on to explain what exactly this means.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20: 2–3). This was the basis for a divine service in Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo on 5 February 2023.
The God of Israel
“The Bible text is very well known. It is the beginning of the commandments that God gave to His people on Mount Sinai,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained. “He starts by telling the people who is speaking to them.” It is the Lord, the creator, source, and preserver of all life, the I AM cited in Exodus 3: 14, who is always with His people and who delivered them from captivity.
“The Lord was waiting for His people to recognise Him as their God.” They were to recognise that God is the Almighty, that they were completely dependent on Him. And the people were to praise God and bring Him sacrifices, not to gain His favour but to express their gratitude.
Israel was to have no other gods. Because that would have meant that His people did not trust Him completely, did not surrender to Him completely, and that they would have repeated the mistake of Adam and Eve of wanting to be like God.
The God of Christians
“So what does this commandment mean for us Christians?” the Chief Apostle asked. “It is also valid for us. God also revealed Himself to us. Not in the smoke, fire, and thunder of Mount Sinai.” Rather, God revealed Himself to us through Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who came to earth. We can get to know God through Jesus Christ, through His teaching, and His person.
Jesus teaches us that God is not only the Creator but also our loving Father who knows what His children need and who provides for them. The Chief Apostle said, “We do not follow a God who terrorises people, who punishes the wicked to make them obey. Rather He is a Father who loves us even if we do stupid things, if we are disobedient.”
Jesus Christ is the Immanuel cited in Matthew 1: 23. Immanuel is translated “God with us”. Indeed, Jesus shared the life of human beings, their joys and cares, their sufferings, their misfortunes, even their deaths, to show them: I am here; I am with you.
Our service to God
“For us the First Commandment means that He is the one we should worship,” the Chief Apostle continued. We gather for divine service to praise, celebrate, and worship God together for all that He has done for us, is doing for us, and will do for us.
“There must be no other gods in our hearts or other things that become more important to us than God,” the Chief Apostle said. Jesus already warned of the most powerful of all idols: mammon. “You cannot serve two masters, you have to choose: either you serve money or you serve God.”
And finally, the Chief Apostle mentioned one last idol: our ego. No one should claim to know better than God what is good or bad. And no one should try to dominate others by forcing their own ideas on them and thinking that their own needs are more important than those of others.
In conclusion the Chief Apostle said: “God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus Christ. We worship Him through our praise, gratitude, trust, and love. Nothing is more important to us than God.”
Republic of the Congo, Chief Apostle, Divine service