You shall have no other gods before me. The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your, heart, soul, mind and strength and the second is like unto it, love your neighbor as yourself.
Not much ambiguity, equivocation or middle ground here. For people of faith, God comes before all else. Jesus even has that tricky bit about hating our mother and father and not turning back to bury the dead and losing our life for his sake. Christians are to have a Jesus-first agenda. Any other priority equals idolatry. We cannot love God and mammon. It isn’t possible for us to serve two masters. The disciples left everything immediately and followed. Jesus came before all else, then and now.
Christians are to have a Jesus-first agenda. Not country first. Not family first. Not wealth first. Not fame first. Not power first. Not security first. Not safety first. Jesus takes priority and all else comes after our loyalty, allegiance and service to him. The Bible is clear about this truth.
Nonetheless, I often fail to put Jesus first. I am remarkably good at justifying my actions. I am a master at talking myself out of doing what Jesus clearly calls me to do and doing that which Jesus clearly forbids. Daily, I put my comfort, my ego, my preferences ahead of the One who demands my soul, my life, my all. I attribute this reality to sin and fear. I am exhibit A that not one is righteous. I also neglect Jesus’ instruction to fear not. I am often afraid. The combination leads to my priorities being all out of whack. I am compelled to fix that which I should allow God to handle or I refuse to act where God commands me to intervene. All because I do not follow my Jesus first agenda, an agenda that is not a hidden one, but said plainly by our Lord.
Jesus first means praying for discernment with an open mind and heart, not asking God to confirm my well-formed assumptions.
Jesus first requires confession, repentance and sincere pleas for forgiveness, not blaming or judging or condemning others.
Jesus first compels me toward those suffering in the ditch, not worrying about my safety and walking to the other side of the road.
Jesus first tells me to welcome the children, the stranger, the least of these, not build barriers to keep them away.
Jesus first calls me to give away my coat and my shirt, not build bigger barns to protect my wealth.
Jesus first pushes me to love my enemies, not seek retaliation.
Jesus first teaches me to tend creation for the sake of generations to come, not exploit its resources for my instant gratification.
Jesus first shows me that I am to wash the feet of friend and betrayer alike, not imagine that some roles or tasks are beneath me.
Jesus first commands me to visit the prisoner and proclaim release to the captive, not relegate entire groups of people to mass incarceration for generations.
Jesus first instructs me to feed the crowd, not send them away hungry.
Jesus first refuses to let me believe that anyone is unworthy of care because Christ died for all.
Jesus first reveals the joy that comes when I trust in the grace of God instead of calculate my place in comparison to others.
Jesus first evokes hope and love, not despair and fear.
Jesus first reveals that sacrificial love is more powerful than violence and cruelty.
Jesus first urges me to seek reconciliation over being right.
Jesus first entails being a steward of the mysteries of God, not an owner of anything.
Jesus first compels me to acts of mercy, not sacrifice.
Jesus first reassures me that resurrection has the last word, not death.
Jesus first relieves me of the burden of searching elsewhere in vain for purpose, worth and abundant life.
We will often fail to follow a Jesus-first agenda, but being clear on what that agenda is will help us remember it more often and hold each other accountable when we forget.
Grace and peace,