So much of life is lived on a superficial level. That’s why I love to challenge people to go deeper, to reflect upon and converse about the most substantial things in life. For example, what or whom do you love more than anything or anyone else? Think about it. What or who is your first love? Then your second, third and so on? Then be honest with yourself: does my life really reflect these priorities? Or am I just fooling myself. I can almost assure you: you’re not fooling those around you.
That which is most important to us is our god. And just because we say something is important doesn’t really mean it is; our lives will reflect our priorities. Who then is your god? If you look primarily to yourself, depend solely upon yourself, then in your mind you are god, or your own god. If money or material things or your material security or financial status are most important, then your material wealth is your god. If your family is most important to you, then your family may be your god. If achieving a certain professional status is most important, then your job or “success” is your god. Then, who is your god? Who or what is most important to you?
Jesus says that all Scripture can be summed up in these commandments. “Love the lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind….Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 10:27 is another version) He seems to be calling us to put the Lord God of the Scriptures first in our lives, to live like he is our God. Our God is something/someone wholly other than ourselves, the Creator, my Creator. This means that I am not God-an important distinction. After that God calls us to “love our neighbor as ourselves.” What this means(as it is clarified in Luke 10) is that I am to be neighbor to all, to care for them, which is a way of loving them. In another instance Jesus teaches his disciples that “the world will know they(we) are his disciples if we love one another.”(John 13:35). Scripture further defines this love as laying down our lives for one another and bearing with one another, being kind to one another and forgiving one another. What guidance might I glean from scripture as to what God envisions regarding the values to which I give the greatest priority?
For me to live as God intends is to put God first in my life, to make the God revealed in Scripture, in Jesus Christ, the most important thing in my life. Revelation 3:4 relates how the church in Ephesus had “forsaken (its) first love.” Apparently they had put other things before God. The Ten Commandments begins, “you shall have no other gods before me.” The most important priority in life then is to love God above or more than anything or anyone else. I’ve thought about what it means to me . What would that mean to you? I have learned that when I do that well, that is, love God well, other things in life seem to fall into place in a way that makes sense, that gives life to me. (Matthew 6:33)
If I love God most of all, then who is next? That may seem an inane question but I contend it is of great import. The one I love most after God is Jean, my wife. She is the companion God gave me to share life. I sometimes see some who put their children above their marriage, even above God(their children become their gods). This is a distortion of God’s plan. Someone once said that the greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother well, and the greatest gift a mother can give her children is to love their father well. Knowing that father and mother love one another well leads children to feel more secure.(I suspect this principle even applies in divorce situations, as challenging as that might be in some cases.) After Jean, I love my children, my grandchildren, my extended family, my church family(both local and global), and so on.
Understanding these values helps me to live in close connection with God. How do you make sense of God and all that is part of life? Think about it. Share with someone else. I’d love to hear from you, to learn from you.