When our kids were little, they used to climb onto our daughter’s vintage brass bed and cuddle with me while we read stories. Two of Dr. Seuss’ characters made us laugh, especially because of their names—Thing One and Thing Two. Oh, the things they would do! Full of mischief, they got the story’s two children and their pet fish into LOTS of predicaments!
Our kids are much older now and The Cat in the Hat stays on our library shelf. But Thing One and Thing Two suddenly popped into my mind while thinking about the state of our union after our national update last week.
I admit that I’m a simpleton when it comes to politics and government. When our elected leaders speak to us in complicated detail about our sorry state and their plans for saving us, I ask, “What’s the essence of the problem here? Could it be Thing One and Thing Two?”
In The Cat in the Hat, the children were bored. They wanted change. They wanted excitement. In came Mr. Charisma along with his sidekicks and gave the children more than they bargained for—a big mess. But The Cat and his entourage weren’t the only ones to blame for the chaos. After all, the family left the front door unlocked and in walked trouble. Pretty funny for a story. Pretty scary for a country.
Perhaps our problems aren’t so much about the characters we elect as about the characters we’ve become—a culture of people with an authority problem. Years ago, rock singer John Mellencamp recorded a song with a simple, one-line chorus—“I fight authority, authority always wins.” Over and over the lyric repeats. In his rock-and-roll way, Mellencamp acknowledged the existence of an authority outside himself. If he chose to fight authority, he knew authority would win—every time. Some rock dudes are pretty astute!
As a country, however, we have slowly but systematically embraced humanistic philosophies for decades, replacing God as authority with ourselves. Do we really believe humans have the answers to life’s biggest problems? Do we really think we can marginalize or ignore our Creator and function fine, with ourselves in charge? I think not.
I think we are on a collision course and it’s high time to reacquaint ourselves with God as Authority. I think it’s high time we reacquaint ourselves with the original Thing One and Thing Two, also known as the first and second commandments. You know, the first two of the Big Ten. Or have we forgotten? According to a large poll conducted by Barna Group in 2009, most in our country no longer remember any of the Ten Commandments, let alone the top two.
So here they are, Thing One and Thing Two, for us to review.
Commandment One: “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Commandment Two: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
What’s the essence of these two commandments? We are to love nothing more than God and His ways as revealed in His Word. We are to put nothing before God and His ways. Nothing.
What? I can’t elevate anything above God and His ways? Not my kids, my significant other, my spouse, my job, my hobbies, my possessions, my self-made religious beliefs, my SELF? My, my, my! How extreme!
By nature, we are worshippers. God created us that way. We are made to worship something or someone. In today’s world, we particularly like to worship ourselves. Humans LIKE to play God. We LIKE to love other things more than God. We LIKE to call our own shots and then convince ourselves that God blesses our choices based on our own deluded rationalizations.
But nothing gets to dethrone God in our lives, our relationships, our nation, or our world without inevitable, negative consequences. We’ve thrown away our moral compass—God and His Word—and invented our own directional devises by taking parts of vastly differing, contradictory world views and piecing them together into our own customized quilt of life philosophies. Problem is, the compass we’ve created has no constant. We’re heading toward disaster but we’re too deceived to notice.
The warning sirens are sounding. The ship of our culture is sinking. Will we hear and heed?
The first two commandments can set our course straight once again and help us divert disaster, individually and corporately. But who, these days, will admit that God is God and we are not—that God must be followed on HIS terms, according to HIS Word, not our opinions of Him and His Word.
God and His Word, so ABSOLUTE, we say!
And oh, how we hate absolutes today!
They will not do us good, not one little bit!
So get rid of them, rid of them!
Consider the post-modern “wisdom” of our day. What’s true for you may not be what’s true for me. My ideas about what’s good for me, my family, my country, and the world, might be different from yours. Since all personal truths are equally true, what difference does it make who’s in charge? Sounds like the relativistic cesspool in which we swim today, doesn’t it? The inmates are running the asylum. Thing One and Thing Two of man’s making have run amuck, because God’s Thing One and Thing Two have been dissed.
The inmates of our modern asylums aren’t our government leaders. They are you and me—individuals who form a nation. We have ditched our Maker many times over and drank the relativistic-flavored Kool Aid that has put us into the current spiritual stupor and consequent national crisis we face today.
Our biggest problem today is not the state of our economy. Our biggest problem today is the state of our souls. Perhaps some of us have not consumed the humanistic Kool Aid, but what have we done to stand against it—to stand FOR God and His ways, starting with ourselves and our own families? Complacency among believers about God and His ways, error about what it means to love, coupled with open rebellion against God, end up leading the whole nation—the whole lot of us—head-on into disaster. It’s just a question of time.
There is no compromise between God and man. Either God is God or He’s not. Either we’re God or we’re not. Every moment. Every hour. Every day. Both are not true. We either follow ourselves or we follow God. We cannot survive indefinitely, individually or corporately, if we keep opposing His ways as revealed in His word—His whole Word—not some drive-through, pick-and-choose, any-way-you-like-it form of His Word so popular today which is nothing short of a humanistic rewrite. It’s our post-modern golden calf—an idol to be smashed.
Yes, God gives us the freedom to recreate Him in our own image and rewrite His word to support what we want. God gives us that freedom, for now. We can continue to fight authority all we want, for now. But the song always ends the same. Authority always wins. One way or another, we’re all going down. Will it be aboard the sinking ship Humanism or on our knees before our Maker, confessing that we need Him and His ways, starting with Thing One and Thing Two?
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.