When I was studying Art History at Kirkwood, I learned of the Western Masters, their mediums, their lives, the governmental climate of their times which prompted their works. After moving to California, I continued my studies of Art History in depth. My professor was from England, she was so much more knowledgeable than my instructor in Cedar Rapids. She took me under her wing and exposed me to a world within Art History that would change my life forever.
As a child, I would watch the “Ten Commandments” with my family. Sitting at my Mothers feet I would ask questions like “Momma, is that in the Bible?” I was no more than 6 at the time. Momma would always take me to the ‘Book’ and explain what was actually in the Bible versus Cecil B. DeMille’s version. I learned very quickly that Hollywood’s’ version was always incorrect! When Aaron made the golden calf, I was so confused. Momma asked me “What is wrong, baby?” I answered her “That’s not right, Momma. God said not to have any other god before him. Why did he do that?” She answered me that “Some people want to be able to SEE and TOUCH an image and call it god. It is easier because we believe what we can see and trust what we can touch. Everything we need to know and do to please and follow God is in this book-the Bible.” I asked “Everything?’ She answered “Everything.” I asked “Is bubble gum in there?” Momma laughed and said to me “If bubble gum is stopping you or anyone from trusting and worshipping the one true God, then it is in here. You see, baby, that is what is called an idol.” I understood her completely and stopped chewing bubble gum just to be on the safe side!
Back to my Art History studies in California. I learned about religious relics. We spent a whole semester on them. The fakes, forgeries and their detection. I was completely intrigued and knew from my childhood teaching that they were idols and not prohibited by God.
My current Pastor, John Standard of Springfield Bible Church has spoken of a man called Martin Luther many times. 1483-1546, a German reformer who was the first and greatest figure in the 16th century Reformation. I was listening to Ref Net on my Echo Dot the other evening and R.C. Sproul began speaking on Martin Luther. One thing that stuck with me was Luthers’ condemnation of the Catholic Church holding elaborately decorated relics in such high esteem. They were worshipping the bones of said Saints before worshipping God. How they would parade them among their followers on certain said festivals and the parishioners would gravel to kiss these images made by man. Pray to these relics for this or that. He also chastised the clergy for their corrupt practices of accepting payment from worshippers for their place in heaven. Well, needless to say none of this went over with the Pope and clergy anywhere! He was labeled a heretic. However, he was successful in the division of Western Christendom between Roman Catholicism and the new Protestant traditions. He equaled himself to the conversion of St. Paul as he was caught in a severe thunderstorm which threw him to the ground in terror and vowed to become a monk if he survived. Entering the Eremetical Order of St. Augustine at Erfurt. There he witnessed the friars and secular clergy forsaken their true mission having fallen into greed and ignorance.
What does all of this say? From the 14th century and prior God has sent messengers to uphold his command of “NO OTHER GOD BEFORE ME” It is easy to be blind sighted by our Spiritual leaders. But in the end, the burden lays with us-Gods people. Who do we listen to?
After Jesus resurrection, Mary wanted to hug him. But he admonished her not to because His work was not finished. He had not ascended to our Father. Many relics in use to this very day are fakes gilded in elaborate gold casings. As a Child of God, would you kiss it, hold it in reverence? They aren’t the bones of Jesus…he is alive!
So, we are instructed: “HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME.” Simple is not hard. Man makes it hard. Be blessed, always.
Alicia G. Gilliam