SEEK YE FIRST
The principle teaching of the Bible is that God is always first. The first of the Great Commandments is that we love God with all our hearts, minds, and might. Without making God first in this way we can never hope to fulfill our other duties to love our neighbor as ourselves. If one were looking for a place where Christians fail, this would be it � we want to try to �be Christian� without God as the center.
Sometimes the evidence leaks out � and it is appalling. Without God as the center, our �faith� becomes trivial. It becomes just another appendage on our lives. Depending on how much weight we give that appendage, we will be more or less overt about our �faith.�
The secular society has done plenty to publicly demean God. The movement to scrub every evidence of God or Christ from the public square testifies to that. Popular TV shows like Joan of Arcadia, with its laid-back, New Agey god, recasts the God of the Bible as so concerned for His public image that He notes how much better He �comes off� in the New Testament and the Quran.
However, secular misrepresentations of a god made in their own image � or even a mockable God � are not unexpected. We see this all happen throughout history and the Bible.
Much more grievous, in my mind, is where we � Christians � are those who trivialize God.
I was reminded of this tendency � one that abounds in comfortable, self-satisfied cultures like our own, as opposed to places where true persecution abounds � in a small news story that came to my attention.
��Seeking Ye First� store features unique Christian-motif accessories,� bleated the headline in the Tullahoma (TN) News article written by Linda Barr (December 17, 2003). The article goes on to share the business venture of a local couple, Ken and Michelle Keller, in which �women�s accessories� with �Christian motifs� will be produced and offered for sale both in their own store and through other outlets described as �excited about the opportunity.� (I�ll bet.)
The current offerings (and I use that word advisedly) are �Christian� shoes and �Christian� handbags.
I could almost hear the rewrite of the old chorus based upon the Matthew 6: 33 verse quoted at the head of this column:
(All together now. )
Seek ye first
The strapless high heels,
And a matching pu-u-u-urse!
Yes, I�m being sarcastic. Yes, I�m being mean, but isn�t it enough that the unbelievers reduce God to human proportions? Do we have to turn Jesus words about the primacy of seeking the Creator of the universe into a vapid, and vain pursuit of �accessories�?
Look at the power (and he context) of Jesus� words in Matthew 6: 24-34:
24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
�Seeking first� is an integral part of not trying to serve two masters � God and mammon. Further, Jesus exhorts us not to take thought for our lives � what we will eat, what we will put on! Here Jesus addresses the two main necessities of life � food and covering. Note He doesn�t even mention �accessories� to our coverings.
Yet someone has the audacity to take the very words of Jesus concerning not worrying about even the very basics, much less the �accessories,� and turn them into a sales pitch for the very things about which Jesus admonishes us to �take no thought.�
The ad calls for the perspective of the buyers to take thought; the gratuitous use of Scripture indicates the sellers� mindset is to seek mammon.
Do these people have a church or Christian friends who were aghast at this degradation of God�s Word? The article � unfortunately � gives no hint of such.
Certainly this is not the first time such abominations have taken place. I am painfully reminded of the days when aerobic exercises were the rage and someone created an album of �Christian aerobics� music on which was emblazoned the bastardization of the words of John the baptizer, �I must decrease, and He must increase.�
I look around at the WWJD trinkets, the �fish� logos for cars (placed alongside the �I�m not perfect, just forgiven� bumper stickers?), and all the rest of the �Christian� paraphernalia. Granted, some of it does actually carry a serious, or at least, reverent, usage of God�s name and Word, but there is plenty out there that could only be described as blasphemous.
Apparently, it is unnecessary for non-believers to trash God. We do a fine job of it ourselves.
The problem is that we don�t fear God. The �faith� often on display is centered on man and his needs, not of the awe and majesty of God. We simply lack proportion. God is big, and we are small; God is powerful, and we are weak; God does not like His name abused, we should be careful.
� 2003 Paul deParrie - All Rights Reserved
Paul deParrie is a 17-year veteran of anti-abortion street activism, a preacher, and a social critic. He is the author of "Dark Cures: Have Doctors Lost Their Ethics" (Huntington House) available at NewsWithViews Online Store Front. deParrie may be reached at: [email protected].
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"The first of the Great Commandments is that we love God with all our hearts, minds, and might.
Without God as the center, our �faith� becomes trivial. It becomes just another appendage on our lives."