I promised Lindsey that I would be more diligent in writing in the blog this year. She's always done such an amazing job, that it gets tempting to just let her continue doing the amazing job she's already doing, as my posts tend to be more abstract. But here goes...
This past week in Sunday School, I had the privilege of continuing on with our Marriage and Family series. This week, I taught on priorities, but I think it would be more accurate to say that I was taught that I need to focus more on what should be a priority in my life, and the life of my family. It is often said that teaching is the best way to learn something and while studying for my lesson and searching the scriptures, I discovered that God isn't confusing at all concerning priorities. Not one bit in fact.
In my studies, I found that there was a poll taken of people who claimed no religious affiliation regarding priorities for their life in Silicon Valley. They were as follows:
1. Choosing the right career
2. Earning a good income and accumulating wealth and property
3. Meeting and choosing the right marriage partner.
4. Raising children properly.
5. Being involved in their community and church. Many join churches for social interaction.
6. Saving for retirement and living healthily to an old age.
The amazing thing is that these priorities that they have listed don't seem like bad things. In fact, most of us would be willing to argue that these things are good things. I wouldn't necessarily disagree, but as I looked over their list, and I searched the scriptures, I didn't find these things to be necessarily godly things, just because they were good things. Having seen this list, I was challenged to examine my priorities and look long and hard at what I put in the place of great import in my life (whether by actions, how I spend my money, time allotted to do that activities, or my words).
In all seriousness, a world that does not believe in God deems it possible to obtain a great job, wealth, property, a loving spouse, well-behaved children, a better community, great friends, and a healthy happy life without the help of the won we as Christians claim is the giver of life and so much more. So often, when we seek to be good Christians, I fear that what the only goal is to be moral and upstanding. It is no wonder that so few see a difference between Christians and non-Christians unless a Christian does something fanatical, when they see the same priorities and lives lived out by us that they see in themselves.
So as I seek to understand priorities from God's perspective (using Scripture), I don't see him making too many lists. I don't see God promising wealth, excellent health, great jobs, perfect spouses, well-behaved children, happy retirement, and friends that will never leave you. No, I don't see those as His promises or as His suggestion for our priorities (no matter how good we may deem them all to be). Instead, His instructions look a bit like this regarding priorities:
1. Seeking to know and love God more fully every day-Deuteronomy 6:5
2. Loving and encouraging our spouse-Ephesians 5:22, 25
3. Raising our children to love and fear God-Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4
4. Loving other believers-Romans 14; "forgiving each other"-Ephesians 4:32; "encouraging" 1 Thessalonians 5:11
5. Loving and reaching non-believers-Matthew 28:19
As I list these out I am reminded, even now, that God gives what the world never can: peace, hope, love. The world gives copies and cheap imitations of each of these (the kind you might buy from vendor on the streets of NY), but God's gifts for this life are eternal and carry into the next. The world can give physical things, but only God can give eternal things.
As we, our family and yours, go into the new year, let's make loving God and bringing Him glory, seeking and saving the lost, and living lives different enough that those around us take note THE priority. The last thing we should want to do, is to end up looking exactly like those who have no peace, love, or hope, while claiming that we do. Happy new year friends!