Saturday, June 16, 2012


Lists!!  I've never been a fan of them, but at my age and with my lack of memory capacity, they are almost indispensable. 

EXCEPT when that list is used to measure my commitment to God or my being spiritual or pleasing God. That kind of list can rob me [or you] of my memory of grace and what a relationship with God is all about. 

You've heard them. Those people who list the way your time, money, activities, should be prioritized as a Christian. God first, then wife, [or husband] family, church work, job, recreation, etc. This is premised on the idea that God is to be FIRST in your life and then you have an ever declining list of what is important and to which you give attention each day, but He is to remain__FIRST

The problem is such a list fails in its idea of Christian living entirely. It winds up being a clear and present measurement of your commitment and spiritual growth which makes the list idea very dangerous indeed. This is not because it's wrong to make a list of what you desire to do on any given day or what is important to you. That's quite often helpful. It's wrong because God isn't FIRST in your life as if He's something you've added and now have to make Him a priority or FIRST in all things you do. God isn't something you DO period. He IS your life. Not a THING in your life, not even the FIRST thing. 

A different metaphor than the list might be of some help. Rather then thinking of God as the FIRST on a list of things to do or even important things to remember, think of God as the HUB. Remember that old bicycle you use to ride? The wheels had a hub. From it went the various spokes that enabled those wheels to create what was necessary for that bike to function according to its purpose or intention. That is an inadequate illustration, as all illustrations are, but a much better way of thinking about our relationship to God than the list IMHO. It moves us from what we DO IN life to who He IS AS our LIFE. Moving from "doing" to "being" when talking about the Christian life IS FUNDAMENTAL if we are to correctly understand what the scriptures say about living as a Christian.

He is the HUB [source] from which every other thing in my life finds the ability to function__ in tandem__ with NOTHING failing to have its good and proper place when thinking about things like time, emphasis, money, needs, as all are evaluated and done or experienced at different times. But, while every spoke [thing/relationship] in my life is of greater or lesser importance to me, my life is held together because of my resting in the HUB [God] who is my source for ALL of life.

It's interesting to me that the word, source, [Gk Kephale] is what is used in Eph. 5, 1 Corinth. 11, Col. 3, when Paul talked about our relationship to God, Christ, husband, wife, and even to the Church. God is the source [Beginnings] of it all and, as such, we relate to each other and all things with that reality in mind. So to think of the HUB as the source or beginnings of what is needed for the bicycle wheel to fulfill its purpose is a great way to think of God. He is the source for ALL I need for my life to be life abundant, even eternal! 

So, I'll now give a couple of suggestions to guide our thinking about all this with only the first one today and the second coming in the next post.

My first suggestion is that, as a Christian, I'm to see all things__including this world__ as Paul saw them and stated to the Corinthians. He told that church in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 that they were to see all things, [the world included]  as gifts from God. He had just been saying that the Corinthians were to see all their former Pastors as God's gift to them, whether it was Paul, [himself] or Apollos, or Peter, but he doesn't stop there. He goes on to say the world [of all things to say] or life, or death, or the things present, [whatever those things or moments are in life] or things to come, [whatever those things or moments might be] all are yours.  

Think church attendance, giving of offerings, revival meetings, bible conferences, all those are some of the things that are your opportunities and gifts from God for sure. But then think wife, kids, job, recreation, mowing the lawn as well. They are gifts and opportunities too. Don't even rule out the NBA finals, or a national championship run by your University of choice. [Just different spokes in your life] All things are simply your opportunities and gifts from God, but HE IS THE HUB. So, all things are yours to embrace and enjoy because they are given to you by God. 

You see, life ISN'T to be viewed as being divided into the SACRED and the SECULAR as if what you do on Sunday or when you read the bible, witness, pray, is a sacred thing, and everything else is a secular thing, and if you really love God you will not spend a great deal of time or money on the secular at all. 

Let me say it again___ you ARE NOT to see the things that have a connection to the church institution as sacred and things that have a connection to your job, or baseball, or a school concert, or any other activity in which you choose to participate as secular. ALL ARE YOURS AS A CHRISTIAN. Enjoy!

When viewed in this fashion, church attendance, offerings, things of that nature [spokes in your life] will NEVER suffer, but will never CONTROL either. They will have a place in your life that is good and reasonable, but they don't measure your commitment or spirituality as a believer. That measurement is based on who God is to you and who you are to Him because of the grace relationship you have with Him that is based on the merit, work, sacrifice, and presence of Christ in your life.  Then how you live out that reality with other people and things in life will be because He is your life.

Everything in your life is related to God and is a gift from Him for you to experience. No one thing is ever MORE important than it should be, AND, no one thing will ever CONTROL you. You are living out of the abundance of your life and the source of your life is God Himself. Your family will not suffer__ or control you. Your church attendance will not suffer__ or control you. Your sports events or golf games or whatever you choose to do will not suffer__ or control you. All are simply resources for making your life abundant and you are a resource for other's lives, BUT HE IS THE SOURCE FOR ALL OF LIFE.

Always remember, if ANYTHING, even attending church or reading your bible regularly, [a quiet time] becomes a substitute for God being real [the source of what is needed for life to be worth living] in your life, the thing you're doing will be an idol as surely as the things before which the Romans bowed in Paul's day were idols. 

Next time a second suggestion that I think will help.

Paul B.


Aussie John said...


"He is the source for ALL I need for my life to be life abundant, even eternal!"

Amen! And revealed to us in, and through, our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Victorious said...

So hard for a performance-based mentality....Priority lists of "must, should, ought-to's" have been so engrained in us as a measure of our value and holiness, that to eliminate them causes feelings of guilt. Thanks for this post, Paul! Very helpful and insightful!

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

"Jesus revealed to us__in us__and through us"...says it all.


Your very insightful comment reminded of the truth of another comment I read.

“Nothing diminishes our pursuit of holiness as much as does a sense of guilt. To the contrary, nothing so motivates us to deal with real sin in our lives as does the understanding of the twin truths that our sins are forgiven and the power of sin is broken because of our union with Christ.”

Scott Leonard said...

Paul, that was a mouthful I need to reread! Thanks.

Paul Burleson said...