An advertisement for a trip to Yellowstone National Park

“Run faster, jump higher,” the television commercial many years ago teased. Children were convinced they could achieve greater levels of speed and height simply by wearing a particular brand of shoes.

My mother bought me two pairs of those shoes at the start of the summer, not because she believed the claim but because I tended to go through shoes with lethal force. She hoped I’d have at least one decent pair by the time school started again in the fall.

I was convinced my athleticism would become the envy of all my friends once I put on those shoes. I was more than a little put out when they didn’t deliver on their promise.

Companies of all kinds like to claim that their products or services do the most or are the best, greatest or favorite.

Barnum and Bailey Circus became synonymous with “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

An automobile company declares that it produces “the ultimate driving machine.”

A particular brand of orange juice is, according to its company, “the best there is.”

Disneyland once advertised as “the happiest place on Earth.”

We simply do not care, or do not care enough, if we fail to send a particular brand of greeting card; it is, after all, “the best.”

At least the Avis Rental Car Company was honest enough to admit in the 1960s that, “We’re number two. We try harder.”

Advertisers love to make exclusive claims. They capture people’s attention, garner trust, build customer base and create loyalty. Some people will believe just about anything, and many others are looking for something, anything, in which to put their trust.

Advertisers know people always have options and alternatives to their products and spend billions of dollars trying to prove they are superior. While some products and services are slightly better than others, many are equally good, no better nor worse than the rest.

God’s demands for exclusivity are quite different. Only God can require complete and uncompromised loyalty because only God is God, and only God can do what God has done.

Monotheistic faith, the “no other gods” concept, was strange to the Israelites when God first introduced it to them. Neighbors in every direction had multiple gods, each for a particular purpose. How was it possible that one God could be the one and only? Yet that was the allegiance God demanded, and God’s faithful history with the people proved God was all they needed.

Still, they struggled with the idea, just like we do. Yet how we place the other gods of our day in relation to Yahweh is one of the most significant issues of our faith.

God must be the one and only; otherwise, the relationship means very little.

Jan Turrentine is managing editor of Acacia Resources.

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