There are many ideas as to what the “correct” priority list in life should be. We are constantly searching for and evaluating what deserves our attention from moment to moment (Even if we don’t do this intentionally, our priorities are easily seen by those closest to us). As the values of society seen to evolve by the minute, so can our affections. We can put valuable time and focus on things that offer us a fruitless return. There’s a daily turf war on the battlefield of our hearts…and unfortunately the values of this world are fighting for residence in the hearts of God’s people.
I love goals. And as a church, we set goals. However, with numerical, financial, and baptism goals, we may be complicating what God intended to be so simple. I can be so focused on achieving my goal, I’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish it. In the process, I find it easy to give my time, energy, and love to a multitude of “good goals” that aren’t always rooted in simply loving God and the people around me.
When asked about the most important commandment in all of Scripture, Jesus responded,
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment” (Matthew 22:37-38).
Our entire life is reduced down to this one (or two) pursuit(s). In other words, everything we do is meant to be marked by the simplicity of loving God. In this daily turf war, our actions don’t always communicate that our love for God matters more than any achievement or success. But in reality, our love for God matters more than any possession, status, or relationship on earth. When we align our lives with the first and greatest commandment, everything else comes becomes clear. Jesus continues with his next statement to “love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) It plays out like faith and works; if we truly have the first (a love for God), the second will naturally follow (a love for people). John Bloom wrote,
“The most loving thing we can do for others is love God more than we love them. For if we love God most, we will love others best.”
In the early days of church planting we are challenged to spend much time strategizing and developing ministry plans, marketing campaigns, and attendance-building events to draw people to our church. These “multitude of good things” are well intentioned means to get the gospel farther, faster. Nonetheless, Relationships are the context in which life is lived…and ministry takes place in the context of those relationships. We must make people our priority in living, leading, and loving. Relationships require great time-consuming investments that are sure to be filled with vulnerabilities, hurts, smiles, and joy.
Even in the most well-intended ministries, we can create our own success metrics and ask them to give us what only God can. If our eyes drift from Jesus, we tend to look around us to find the approval, acceptance, and love from those around us. But our heavenly Father is the source of the greatest love and affection for us.
May we come to realize the success metric which Jesus has called us…to faithfully and whole-heartedly love Him and those around us. True fulfillment is received in a life lived in pursuit of God as we surrender to Him each and every day.
- Please pray for Awakening Church. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, pray as we develop new and existing relationships for His kingdom expansion.
- This past month we started a new Bible study with several ESL students (none of which are yet believers). Please join us in praying for the softening of their hearts and and openness to the gospel.
- This week we are beginning a focus in our city groups on sharing Jesus. Please pray for boldness as we live on mission each day across Seattle.
- PRAISE- God has met a great need with His provision of a Sunday childcare worker for our daughter. This will open greater doors for my wife, Kathy, to have greater involvement with Awakening Church.
- PRAISE- I had an encouraging time at the Send Network Gathering in Las Vegas, NV this month. I’m so thankful for a network that prioritizes planting churches. But just as important, a network that invests in the spiritual and emotional health of it’s planters so the planting continues! #sendnetwork