Each of the chapters about what Christians actually believe focuses on Jesus–grace, priorities, teachings, salvation, etc. Monday we talked about who Jesus is, and today we have the related question of where Jesus asks us to put our attention. Recalling the affirmation “Jesus Christ is Lord” will help us as we seek to keep our priorities in line with following Christ…
Chapter 12: Jesus’ Priority
Many of us struggle with our priorities–where do our resources (attention, energy, time, money) go first, second, third, not at all…? It’s common, at least in the US, for us to claim some things as a priority with our words, but for our actions to demonstrate a different set of priorities. For instance, I don’t think I know anyone who would not list their family among their top priorities. But I also know a LOT of people who spend the majority of their time away from their families. Some will say that they’re away from their families in order to provide for them, and that may be–but the question of “provide what?” is an open one. This chapter has several stories of families that sought good and important jobs that would make a lot of money in order to provide a big house, a summer home, a cushy bank account….but at the expense of actually being together as a family. So what is that family’s priority–family, or money, or work, or a big house?
Most questions posed to Jesus were questions of priorities. They may not have been worded that way, but that’s what they are. When our priorities are out of order, we are engaging in idolatry–we are claiming that something other than following God’s will is most important in our lives. This is not an easy thing to talk about, but it’s a necessary topic, so here we go…
“What is most important?” asks the lawyer/religious leader/rich man/young ruler (depending on which gospel you’re reading). What do you have to do as a child of God, in order to live the life God wants for you? Jesus answer: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, with all your strength…love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets, Jesus says.
So–our first priority is to love God with everything we are and everything we have–with our intellect, our bodies, our emotions, our spirits, our will, our lives. Our second priority is the flip side of the same coin–to love those made in the image of God (that would be everyone). How do we express those priorities?
I know I’m not the only one to have said this (in part because it was said to me at some point a long time ago, but I can’t remember by whom). What we SAY our priorities are almost doesn’t matter. Instead of talking about them, show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I’ll be able to see your priorities plain as day. Where do you spend your time? With whom do you spend your time? What do you spend that time doing? Where do your precious resources go?
Do we spend our time building relationships between us and God, between us and our neighbor (even when our neighbor is not the person next door in our fashionable neighborhood)? Do we spend our resources building up the kingdom of God? Or do our checkbooks and calendars reveal very different priorities?