Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thoughts on Priorities

Something has been weighing heavily on me here lately. As I work my way through Acts I keep seeing a theme about changes. Many Christians believe that once we're saved, that we're good with God. We don't have to change a whole lot about who we are or the way we live. We can continue to lead life in a manner that relies more on what the world thinks is the way we should do things rather than what the Bible tells us. And more than just the Bible, but also our convictions, which should arise from time spent in prayer with God. Asking Jesus to be your Savior is just the first step. What Acts (and not just Acts, but that is where my time is being spent as of late) keeps talking about (and through various apostles-not just one) is how, after we make that first choice, our heart should start to change. That change includes wanting to do anything and everything to please our Lord, and often that means living in a manner very different from what the world views as normal. Different sects of Christianity, Protestant and Old World, have their own lists of what is okay and what isn't. I personally find it difficult to fit into any one group. I am just difficult that way. I just follow what the Bible and my time with God, as well as with respectable (read: they can actually write and make sense) Christian theologians and leaders' writings help me to understand. Thus, as I have delved back into my first Love as of late, I have found more and more that I want to be perfect (I know, I can't be perfect, but I can try, right?), nay, pleasing for my God. Most of what I find can be directly derived from Scripture.
I get frustrated when people talk about how the New Testament negates the Old Testament, that the OT is only there to know about the history of our Savior, to see the prophecies that speak of who He would be. The thing is, as you really read through the NT, you see God working to explain how all of Scripture is important. The Jewish brothers thought that any Gentile converts should follow all of their Hebrew rules, while Paul crashes onto the scene and starts arguing that that shouldn't be the case. Peter starts getting visions from God saying that you must do what you need to do to bring people to Him. One verse that sticks out, though (and I apologize, I do not have my Bible on me, but will try to get back here to post the exact passages later) has them starting to talk about welcoming people in, not pushing Hebrew law on them, but that they would eventually want to do things that would please God, and thus reordering some rules so that the most important ones (worship no other god or idol) were emphasized first, and if they chose to follow others, they could,and eventually should. This caused some confusion, and even today most churches talk about loving God and your neighbor, but often leave any other rules out. God wants more of us, though. The way we live should reflect who He is, and what we believe in a number of ways. The best way to find those, as they will differ from person to person (God made us all different, and loves us that way) is to make sure you make your number one priority spending time with God in prayer and in your Bible studying, asking Him to open our eyes to what He wants us to see. Little by little, I have started to feel tugs to do things differently. What you do won't necessarily make sense to your neighbor and vice verse. God will give you direction if you ask for it, though. He will grant you peace with even difficult choices, and through being willing to do things His way, you open doors for Him to bless you, even in the hard stuff.
Our first step in any of it, though, is prioritizing. God first, spouse next, children (amazing blessings in themselves) then the rest of family, friends and world.
I think the key here is that we should change once we begin the walk of a Christian, but that it looks different for everyone. Still, though, the Bible is clear that people should be able to tell we're Christians, and not just run of the mill I-say-I-am-or-I-was-born-into-this-or-Sunday-only Christians, but bonafide, my-heart-has-changed-so-my-life-should,-too, Christians. We should strive to want to be what please God. It should bring joy to us to bring joy to Him, and often that includes following rules or guidelines that He set out that make little sense to the rest of the world. We need to be careful to not fall prey to the "it was a different time and culture then" argument, as God is timeless and the rules set them are the same then, now and always.

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