Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Lists!!  I've never been a fan, 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 things that add to my being spiritual or pleasing to God. That kind of list will rob me [or you] of my grace rest and what a relationship with God is all about. 

You've heard them I'm sure. Those people who list the way your attention, time, money and the like are to be prioritized. The list goes something like this, God first, wife, [or husband] family, church work, job, recreation, all in the order of importance. This is premised on the idea that God has to be first and you have an ever declining list of what is important for you to do each day. That list generally winds up being a measurement and picture of your commitment and spiritual growth for the day.

The only problem is that list fails in its idea of Christian living entirely. This is not because it's wrong to make a list of what you wish to do on any given day. That's quite often helpful. It's wrong because God isn't to be viewed as FIRST in your life as if He's something you've added and now you're to make Him priority 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. 

Rather then thinking of God as the first on a list of things to do or even to hold as the first of important things to remember, think of God as the hub. [I got this from someone else and can't remember who or where.]  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 it's purpose or intention. That is an inadequate but much better way of thinking about our relationship to God than is the list. It moves us from what we DO in life to who He IS as our LIFE. No illustration is adequate. But moving from "doing" to "being" when talking about the Christian life IS FUNDAMENTAL if we are to capture the relational aspect of the scriptures.

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 it's good and proper place when time, emphasis, money, needs, are all evaluated and done. Every spoke of my life is important and held together because of my resting in the Hub [God] who is my source for ALL of life. [Think Vine and branches.]

It's interesting that 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. So to think of the hub as the source or beginnings of what is needed for the bike to fulfill it's purpose is how we're to view God. He is the source for ALL we need for life to be life abundant, even eternal! So, a couple of suggestions....

Suggestion one___see all things__including this world__ as gifts from God to you. This is what Paul believed and stated to the Corinthians. He told them in no uncertain terms in 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 that they were to see all things, including this world, 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 that about 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.

Attending a local church meeting, giving your money and reading your bible are some of the things that are your opportunities of things to do and are gifts from God for sure. But don't rule out the NBA finals, or enjoying a national championship run by your University of choice [just different spokes in your life] as things that are your opportunities for things to do and are to be seen as gifts from God that are just as real as well. So, see all things as yours to embrace and enjoy because they are given to you by God. 

Suggestion two____understand that life ISN'T divided into the SACRED and the SECULAR as if what you do is EITHER a sacred thing OR a secular thing, and if you really love God, the assumption is, you will not spend a great deal of time or money on the secular at all. Simply put, all the things that have some connection to a church institution ARE NOT to be seen as sacred and all things that have to do with baseball or a school concert or some other activity in which you participate, ARE NOT be seen as secular. Both kinds of things in life ARE YOURS AS A CHRISTIAN as gifts from God. Enjoy!

Remember, 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 life that is good and reasonable and will ALWAYS be related to the Hub.

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 based on the merit, work, sacrifice, and presence of Christ who is not only in your lifebut is your life.

Paul B.


Geeman said...

We tend to view life as a railroad track with both sacred and secular trains on it. Whenever the two approach one another, we franticly switch one or the other to a side line to avoid a collision. Could it be that God's will for us lies somewhere in the aftermath of just such a collision? But, oh, what faith that takes!

Paul Burleson said...


Well said. And it is the aftermath of that collision that I've attempted to describe as you've obviously seen and understood. Thanks for the new metaphor.

Aussie John said...


Your articles are revealing the reality, in your life,of what you have written in this article, "apart from Me you can do nothing".

Those, who claim to be followers of Christ, need to illustrate that the vine,God in Christ,is the very life of the branches, and apart from that there is nothing.

Placing God as first on a priority list is to relegate God to an item of life,rather than life itself, a thing on a list.

Much of the teaching that I grew up with in traditional evangelicalism firmly established a boundary between God and followers of Christ (and still does).

To relegate God to the first place on a list, is to deny that everything else exists by His grace.

"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 it's good and proper place when time, emphasis, money, needs, are all evaluated and done. Every spoke of my life is important and held together because of my resting in the Hub [God] who is my source for ALL of life."

He IS life! Abundantly! As you continually reveal!

John 10:10

Paul Burleson said...

Aussie J,

This, "Placing God as first on a priority list is to relegate God to an item of life,rather than life itself..." is the crystal clear HEART of what I was trying to say in this post. Thank you for saying it with such clarity.

The difference in all this is that He IS life rather than some thing in life and I'm convinced it is this which is so lost in today's brand of Christianity.

Aussie J, you and I know this is no small thing at all.

Bob Cleveland said...

Glad you said this.

What's been in my mind is that Jesus said that He came down here to (1) Seek and save that which was lost, and (2) provide a means for life, and abundant life at that. And I believe the term "abundant life" can encompass all we experience in life.

If we do it all as He has suggested in His book, Bible.

As I tell my class, when we buy our kids a present, we want to get them something they want. We want them to want what we are giving them.

I think Jesus wants us to WANT abundant life. And that means all of it, if we're leading the abundant life He described. In my view, that life is big enough to encompass ALL of my life. If I'll just follow His lead.

I'm betting He was the best carpenter, worked harder, and made better stuff than anybody. And I also bet He enjoyed the dickens out of a good party, like the one at Cana.

It's not only the Cross that was His present to us .. it was His entire life.

Paul Burleson said...



Steve Miller said...


My lists are like you said for my memory recollection in daily tasks. With regards to priorities in spiritual matters I like the hub illustration. A wheel can have as many spokes as possible and still be a wheel but is of no functional value without a hub and one hub is all that is required. We are to seek first the kingdom of God not make the kingdom of God first; that is already a reality. Grabbing a hold of or attaching to that which is already pre-eminent and the source of all that I need removes any effort on my part to make The Lord just an object in a buffet of choices. Just a thought. Thanks