The title, a bit cryptic, is more than just to pique your interest in reading this article! It lays a foundation for a belief system for today’s world that holds the design for how one should respond to the challenges of the day. King Solomon wrote there is nothing new under the sun. What I am about to describe is not new, in fact it is millennia old. As old as man in the Garden of Eden.
The concept came to me through a conversation over sandwiches and soup on the most typical of summer days. No blinding light from the heavens or whispering voice in a whirlwind, but a simple statement by a pastor friend of mine. When the discussion came to the current disruptions of private lives with COVID-19, political warfare, riots in the streets, concern over China trade, border security and a devastating force from an explosion in Beirut; my friend said, to the effect, when I consider all of this, I must be a pastor first. Everything else, as far as his response to those issues, comes through the filter of his God-given calling FIRST.
What would be the result if every born-again believer in Christ responded to all the events in their lives as a Christ-follower FIRST? Would that change the way in which the Christian sees the world? Would it change the way the world sees Christians?
‘Wait just one doggone minute!’ you say, ‘What about the believer’s responsibilities to their spouses, their families, their work?’ Are you ready? Here cometh the epiphany!
When the first is best, it makes better the rest! Of course, it’s simple! How do you think I was able to get it?
If my priorities are such that my response to every part of my life is defined by the primary one, then every other priority in my life will be made better, enhanced, lifted to the place it should rightfully hold. By the same token, parts of my life which I assumed to be priorities may be re-defined and no longer classified as a priority. Even in being reclassified as less important, those will benefit, I will benefit and others in my circles will benefit when those things take their right place in my life.
Reader, you look puzzled, a little confused, perhaps even tsemisht! Maybe an example or two will help.
My marriage. If my primary, or first, priority is living my life as a Christ-follower, then the priority of my marriage will benefit. I will honor my wife more nobly, love her more deeply and cherish her most appropriately.
On the opposite side of the spectrum could be my prioritizing of continuously tending to the news alerts of the day and worrying, commenting on, or even being consumed with such issues as politics, COVID or world crises. When I view all those things through a biblical grid or, more simply, as a Christ-follower first viewpoint, then each of those will be reduced to the level of proper importance and not paramount importance in my life. An ulcer or two might even begin to heal!
Let’s go a step further. Just recently word has come down about a court injunction in California banning worship in a local church due to COVID concerns. The court is allowing the ‘church’ to conduct meals for people, training, all kinds of activities, just NO worship! As I consider this issue as a Christ-follower first, I may consider becoming involved, communicating opinion, and offering monetary support for legal fees because the priority I give such an issue is high even through the view of Christian first. I would ask myself, ‘If I were the pastor or in the congregation, (all are included in the injunction), would I risk being arrested and jailed to defy an injustice?’ Where is my line, based on the Christian first principle?
I recently wrote an article about the patriots who descended on Gettysburg this past July to protect the monuments and sacred ground from being destroyed by malcontents bent on demolishing America’s history. When I reconsider my response based on the Christ-follower first principle, I still come down on the side of being willing to stand side-by-side with these patriots who sought only to protect, not hurt, or destroy.
Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” This quote is very pertinent in this day of continual incursions on our individual liberties under the guise of safety from a virus. Even if many in government are well-meaning and believe what they profess will save lives, this is America and individual freedoms align with individual responsibilities. Choose to mask or not to mask, that is the question only the individual should be required to ask of themselves. If you own a private business and want to cater only to mask wearers, that is your option, not the governments’.
To send your child to school or not is the decision of the parent. The government has the obligation to provide the teaching in a safe environment but that does not include masking kindergarten children and hiding behind plexiglass. Those who choose to teach openly should have children in their classrooms sent willingly by parents who agree. For those who choose not to take part in an open education, there are home-schooling options. As a Christ-follower, I can make the welfare of the children a priority and I don’t have to drink the COVID Kool-Aid to do so.
By prioritizing our lives based on our relationship with Christ, we free ourselves from the worry of endless newscasts of detriment and destruction. We remember God is in control and we can say like Habakkuk, “I will look to see what God says.”