Focus on Priorities Not the Past
“Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Mt. 6:33). “I press on to take hold of that for which Jesus Christ took hold of me. . . .Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:12b-14)
Following Jesus calls on us to attend to certain priorities and to sublimate matters of lesser importance. “We don’t have forever” as Francis Schaeffer used to say. Christians who are productive learn that only God can do all things; our role is to serve him and keep the priorities that the Lord calls us to advance.
I wonder if mid-summer might not be a good time for you to consider if you are effectively serving the Lord, keeping his priorities, or if in the words of Solomon you might be “chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 1:17)? As the Olympics begin, maybe it’s timely to recall also how Paul put it in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “I buffet my body”—I train it and stick to priorities so that I might serve the Lord and not be disqualified from a contest. You surely realize that all those Olympic athletes descending on Tokyo have trained hard and long—they’ve stuck to their priorities. Are you? Or are you in danger of squandering the time and gifts God gives.
Let me illustrate briefly.
Jesus taught us that the world would aggressively oppose those who followed him and kept his priorities. In John, he prepared his disciples for this opposition (read 16:2, 33). And he taught them that they were to stick to tasks and not to be deterred when they met adversaries. How often are you reminded that the world may hate or oppose you? And will you stick to priorities .. . or be knocked off course and distracted?
Later, Paul in Eph 4:17-20 counseled against living “in the futility” of unbelieving thought. He warned against a culture that was “darkened in their understanding,” . . . having lost all sensitivity [and] have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”
So with the injunction to heed our priorities and with the reminder that the world is not always friendly to Christians, I want to mention three frightening examples of the world spirit. And if you want to crusade about something, if you wish to devote yourself to a few big issues, instead of the minor leagues and skirmishes about unimportant matters or dithering over past events that cannot be changed, note these examples.
1. Onslaught of anti-nature gender bending. It is breathtaking to see how quickly our
culture is degenerating. The clear opposition to how God made us—exclusively as male
or female, not a 3 rd or 4 th or 5 th gender-option—finds churches and denominations being ripped apart as they either try to cater to immorality or are afraid to denounce it for what it is. And the consequences of transgenderism and seeking to normalize same-sex behavior is, sadly, one of the most transformative issues of our day. Might you have
some energy and time to devote to something important? Spend some time with your
own children and grandchildren (before addressing everyone else’s family) and point
them to the Lord’s creation orders, rather than fiddling while Rome burns.
2. Attacks on churches. It is shocking to read the news reports below. Canada may seem
like a long way off, but it is basically Europe in the northern part of our continent. Are
you so sure that this could never happen in our area? Having seen what happens when
churches close due to a pandemic, what if churches are systematically targeted and
destroyed? Is this issue not far larger than minor matters?
- http://• https://nypost.com/2021/07/12/us-media-shamefully-justified-a-string-of-canadian-church-burnings/
Here’s a challenge: instead of exhausting yourself on inconsequential matters, why not
lend a hand to securing religious liberty? Now that’s a priority to pursue.
3. State control of personal matters. Whether it’s the requirement to post a Q-reader on a church door in England, or government intrusion into a number of things that should
only be decided by individuals or local prudence, protecting our liberties and churches
from outside control is very important—and may become more so in the future.
Few mature folks in churches ever dreamed that governments and society would encroach on so many matters of sincere faith so quickly. Yes, that time is coming; and will we be ready for those major battles or will you be “polishing brass while the Titanic” sinks? Churches, need to wake up. There’s real work to be done—and the priorities which God gives us are far more deserving of attention and sustained effort than the trivial matters that so often consume our days.
Revelation 3:2 calls us to wake up and strengthen the things that remain. Stop wasting time on minor matters. Matters of real importance deserve the attention and best efforts of Christian churches. Won’t you join in pursuing priorities and leaving behind the petty, the insignificant?
Maybe for the rest of summer and into the fall, you could benefit from the call to leave behind the things of the past and press onward to the high calling of Jesus. Let’s join together and work for priorities—not matters of insignificance.
Here’s to not wasting our days, years, and lives but in seeking God’s kingdom first. Redirecting your efforts and gifts to focus on the right priorities will help.
—-Pastor David Hall