Order of Importance

This week I’ve had to pay for gasoline bordering on the steep side.  This week I pulled a muscle in my leg, and it hurts.  This week I couldn’t keep track of my mechanical pencils and had to settle for dull pencils, I got a bill reminder for a doctor’s visit back in February, I forgot to get graham cracker crust while I was at Wal-Mart, I was late for a meeting, and I got frozen peanut butter cookie dough instead of making cookies from scratch like I wanted to do to show off.

All that, though, slides into the fading background as I think about my grandma.

Grandma–“Meme” to me–had surgery yesterday on her thyroid.  The doctor cut a big line across her neck.  She was awake when I got to see her yesterday.  She had been stitched up, but blood oozed out from a place on her neck that had been glued instead of stitched, and the glue wasn’t holding.  Her voice was raspy and she was wearing a hospital gown not remotely close to deserving to be worn by such a beautiful woman.

My grandma had surgery yesterday on her thyroid.  She was hooked up to a machine and had orange sherbert for dinner.  She said she wasn’t in too much pain, but she had to squeeze her eyes shut every time she swallowed.  She had a blood pump to keep the internal wound from clotting and a vigilant nurse.  The family was all squished into a smallish cream-yellow hospital room.

The order of importance . . it’s different now.

I wonder if it’s really so important my phone’s touchscreen annoys me or my organic shoestring potato fries are out of stock.  No, really, I don’t even need to wonder.  I realize.  Much of the time, my order of importance is junk.

If one of my favorite earrings breaks or I have to make a long business call, what real importance should things like this have in my life?  And where does what really matters go on my priority list?  Down to the bottom?

Reminders about our contorted order are throughout life.  A friend struggles with breast cancer, a parent falls ill, a child dies in an accident.  The order of our life is flipped upside down, and we have a rare glimpse, a bit of a taste, of what eternity must be like . . where the most important is treated as the most important . . and the least important finds its place far below.

My grandma’s surgery reminded me of the order of importance so often jumbled up in my self-consumed, attracted-to-the-worthless sin nature.

And I think . . as a Christian, I have staked my life on the belief that Jesus is real, His sacrifice good.  But how often do I really think about the radical flipping this does to my order of importance?

If God Himself chose to give up all the glory of Heaven to come and serve me . . . if His order of importance was that I mattered more than staying in the perfect joy of Heaven . . if He was willing to be spit on and and have nails hammered through his hands so He could pay for my sin (that He in no way owed to pay for) . . if He placed me as a priority over personal happiness, peace, importance, and safety . . what should my order of importance be for Him and what He wants me to do?

Here I am, Lord.  YOU are my priority.

Thank you, Meme, for the reminder.

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

“Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” (Mark 12:28-33, NIV)


The Three Excuses: Reflection

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go to the roads and paths!  Urge the people to come to my house.  I want it to be full.  I can guarantee that none of those invited earlier will taste any food at my banquet.’ ” (Luke 12:23-24)

The scary reality: We are, each one of us, replaceable in God’s kingdom.  Although there is no other person just like us, and God desires all to come to Him, He will not keep a seat for us if we are not willing to answer His call.

And we will miss out on His banquet.  We will miss out on the Kingdom of God.

“It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.  But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:6b-8, NIV)

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The Three Excuses: Excuse #3

I recently got married, and that’s why I can’t come. (from Luke 14:20)

This person is so overcome with relationships that he loses out on God’s kingdom.

Do I recognize this person in myself?

It’s hard to believe that the very relationships God gives us with parents, spouses, children, friends, etc., can be the very relationships Satan can use to destroy us.  Satan can keep us so involved with our families and friends that we don’t have time for God.

All my relationships must be under the authority of Jesus, and less important to me than Him.  This is not because God is egotistical, but because everyone and everything good does revolve around Him!  If we leave God out, or if we try to rank Him as less important than earthly relationships, we will completely fail not only towards God, but also in the very relationships we are trying so hard to value.  No one can take the place of Jesus in our lives, and only bitter disappointment is on the horizon of such expectation.

The scary reality: the man in this parable is being called to forget his relationships to come into the presence of the king—and he chooses his stuff.  But his life is taken from him as a consequence for his refusal to come.  In the end, he loses everything, his family & friends and, far worse, his eternity.

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  Whoever does not take up their cross and follow Me is not worthy of Me.  Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for My sake will find it.  (Matthew 10:37-39, NIV)


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The Three Excuses: Excuse #2

I bought five pairs of oxen, and I need to see how they plow.  (from Luke 14:19)

This person is so overcome with work—achievements and supervision—that he loses out on God’s kingdom.

Do I recognize this person in myself?

My job can become a big distraction that drains my life away from God’s purpose, if I’m not using my job to glorify Him.  But what about the little jobs?  What about housework, cooking, checklists, even attempts to be busy in self-good works instead of God-good work?  Can I become so busy trying to earn praise from God that I don’t hear His call in my life?  My acts of service, my blog, everything I do is worthless if I do it to try to merit my relationship with God.

The scary reality: the man in this parable is being called to forget his personal business to come into the presence of the king—and he chooses his personal business.  But his life is taken from him as a consequence for his refusal to come.  In the end, he loses everything, his career dreams and, far worse, his eternity.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.  The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature.  So God did what the law could not do.  He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have.  And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins.  He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. (Romans 8:1-4, NLT)

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Published in: on August 4, 2011 at 11:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Three Excuses: Excuse #1

I bought a field and I need to see it. (from Luke 14:18)

This person is so overcome with material possessions—acquisition and inspection—that he loses out on God’s kingdom.

Do I recognize this person in myself?

Home mortgage is a big expense that can distract me from God’s purpose . . . but what about the little expenses?  For years, I was plagued with various “collection addictions”.  I would try to collect everything in a set.  It started all the way back with Happy Meal Toys.  I wanted every single one, and when I got them all, rather than enjoy them, it was time to start a new collection.

What about when I spend money on myself that God has given me to spend on others?  This is the most difficult part of material possessions for me to fight.  I have to ask myself, Do I need this?  Does God have a better use for this money, like feeding children who have nothing to eat?

The scary reality: the man in this parable is being called to forget his worldly stuff to come into the presence of the king—and he chooses his stuff.  But his life is taken from him as a consequence for his refusal to come.  In the end, he loses everything, his property and, far worse, his eternity.

And He [Jesus] said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  And He told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’  And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods.  And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax,eat, drink, be merry.’  But God said to him, ‘Fool!  This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’  So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:15-21, ESV)


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