Article: God First

I am not an expert in most things. However, I am a theologian. You may even question my expertise in that field of study, yet that is what I am. I look at  everything through the lens of God’s word as found in the scripture and through the filter of the living Word of God who is Jesus the Christ.

The season of Advent is here and our focus is on the “arrival” of Jesus on Christmas Day. We are not only looking back but we are also looking forward to the day Jesus returns in power. As we look at the events of 2018, we need Jesus more than ever.

When I think about all the trouble in the world, I am reminded of something one of my seminary professors once said in class. “If we could obey the first commandment perfectly we would not need the other nine.” He was referring to the first commandment of the Ten Commandments and that is “You shall have no other gods.”

What did my professor mean by that? He was not talking about other gods. He was talking about us. Not that we become a god but we take the place of God. What do I mean by that? Our priorities and preferences take precedence over God’s will for our lives. Now multiply that by the 7.5 billion people who live on earth. No wonder there are so many problems! We are all using our own playbooks!

For example, I see this most often when it comes to an individual’s political preferences. I see over and over again how God’s sovereignty in a person’s life ends at political preferences and policy. Somehow the First Amendment of the US Constitution applies to how people of faith think about God’s will for our nation. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it is a personal perception problem. God doesn’t appear to be welcome in our personal political deliberation as individuals. God is relegated to church and not allowed in the public forum as it relates to deliberation and discernment of important national issues. Why is this happening? This goes back to our inability to fully live into the first commandment and letting God lead all areas of our lives (and thought processes).

If I have hit a nerve, I apologize. However, it also means there is an element of truth in what I am writing.

Jesus reminds us that the two most important concepts as His followers are “to love God and love people.” (The Great Commandment as found in Matthew 22.) You may disagree but I believe this applies to every aspect of my life including larger issues in our nation, including how our nation treats the poor and those who have no legal standing and are seeking asylum.

Don’t read into my comments. I am not advocating for a welfare state or have open borders. (I am not interested in debating these issues either.) What I am saying is that we need to treat all people with dignity and love… even when they don’t return that love. That’s all I am saying.

I want God to lead every aspect of my life. Am I there yet? Nope but it is my desire. I continue to work towards surrendering all areas of my lives.

I am thankful we are moving toward Christmas. I need to be reminded that God comes to us and forgives us. I need reconciliation and a change of heart.

God bless you,
Pr. Ben

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