Have you ever thought, I’ll find time for God later?
How about, Ugh, I just want to watch some TV. I’ll pray tomorrow night?
Have you read the Bible recently and thought, I don’t get this, and it does nothing for me; and frankly I’m kind of sick of it?
You’re not alone. A lot of us have hearts that have been sinfully deceived about what is important, have believed lies and loved lesser things more than we do God. I think a lot of our Christian apathy, our spiritual malaise, is caused by a faulty, inaccurate perspective. You see, I often think of my real life, of the truly important tasks in the World of Wade, as all of that which is tangibly in front of me. What’s important, Wade? Well, duh. Job. Dinner tonight. Paperwork. Family budget. Chores. Those are things right there in front of my face. Those are the events, the list-items, the things which captivate my attention.
It’s easy for me to let the everyday assignments and goals shoplift my worship. My career and my duties and my weekly plans go from being good responsibilities or God-given gifts to being functional gods that lay claim to my heart. And I attend to them tirelessly. I run the errands and I do the paperwork and I make the phone calls, I massage every sore muscle in the life I want to be perfect, exercise every joint in the schedule I want to fill with accomplishments and checked boxes. I do my best, and then I tell myself how tired I am. But I haven’t done it in honor of the God who made me, or out of love and responsibility to my fellow man. No, all too often I’ve made trips to the store and scheduled an extra meeting and tried to impress my co-workers in the hopes that I can achieve, finish, succeed. In the hopes that I can do the tasks of this week sufficiently enough to make myself happy, safe, and justified.
The day-to-day projects and events become, positively or negatively, what motivate me. What give me identity. What take all my thoughts captive. I live for the Saturday off and I freak out over the Tuesday chores.
Being blinded by earthly life that way never ends well. I’m sowing the seeds of boredom with God when I start selling my heart for temporary, earthly payoffs. When knocking out the cleaning or watching TV is more important to me than communion with my Father, I’m beginning the dangerous process of spiritual dryness.
I show that these daily concerns are gripping my heart by the irritation they cause me, the excitement they bring me, or the anxiety they put over me. What angers me, what thrills me, and what scares me are all clues as to what I love. You want to see what someone really cares about? You can almost always get a visceral reaction from a human heart, positive or negative, if you feed or threaten what it loves.
My daily and weekly functions, duties, missions, and merrymakings prove how much sway they have over me by how much they govern my emotions.
“Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
“They preach, but do not practice… They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others… Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
Jesus, in Matthew chapters 6 and 23.
Far too often my perspective, my field of vision, is dominated by my momentary earthly life, and I show this by what I fear, hate, get angry by, and devote myself to.
Meanwhile, while I’m thinking unceasingly about my to-do list, someone right next to me at work inches, day by day, closer to the great white throne judgment of Almighty God, having no righteousness of Christ to save her.
And meanwhile, while I replay a conversation whose ending I didn’t like a hundred times over in my head, demonic forces who know that their end is soon coming (and will be final) fight for control of my children’s hearts and my family’s destiny.
And meanwhile, while I fret for hours about car problems or snow shoveling, angels long to rejoice for lost sheep I ignore, because after all it’s been a long day and I really just don’t want to be bothered with evangelism.
What must my myopic, self-centered anxiety about chores look like from Heaven? My hours upon hours spent thinking about our family budget while praying for two or three minutes for my lost neighbors once a month? While the saints are with Christ right now, knowing that their good fate is sealed and hoping that Jesus will soon return and remake the earth, while angels sing perpetually around God’s throne, what must my anger over perceived slights, fear about possible problems, and joy-seeking in the world’s trinkets look like? What does a man whose heart is consumed with his day-to-day cares look like to a Heaven that knows all of human history is like a grain of sand when compared with eternity?
My love of God and of His Kingdom can be greatly damaged by my temporal, earthly perspective. When I am obsessed with and owned by my routine and my weekly grind, I cherish God’s Name and glory less. When I think what really matter are my job, chores, bills, and time off, I pray for His Gospel to reach unbelievers and His holiness to be manifest in His people less.
I need the Word to reframe my worldview, to alter my way of looking at my schedule and change what I value, so that I can better love what God loves and better prioritize my life.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Paul, in Ephesians 6
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” The author of Hebrews in chapter 13
“Now great crowds accompanied Him, and He turned and said to them, ‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after cannot be my disciple.” Jesus, in Luke 14
I live, and you live, in a created world with real souls that will either suffer terrible, just wrath for their wickedness or be forgiven and receive the greatest pleasure imaginable. Will either hate God and reap death or love Christ and reap eternal joy with God Himself among His people and new creation, forever. We live in a world where Satan wants to devour souls and drag them with him into a lake of fire, but where God offers pardon by grace through faith and uses people and churches to make that offer known. You and I have jobs, take care of kids, do our grocery shopping every day around human beings who will either end up in Heaven or in Hell. We spend our hours and days and weeks either storing up great and massive treasures for ourselves or wasting our time on things that moths will eat, thieves will steal, and fire will destroy.
Let those of us who have believed in Jesus see the beauty of what we have in Him, and let that shed good light and proper perspective on the rest of our lives. If we do that, each part of our schedules will take its proper place, and will get the right amount of our hearts and our time: no more, no less. Let those of us who know Him think about Him and read Him and sing to Him and treasure Him. Savor what Jesus has wrought for us! We will inherit everything! We will know the author of all good things for all time! A hundred billion years’ worth of time from now, those of us who have believed in Christ Jesus will be worshiping Him and learning Him and enjoying Him still, and will have not even reached the beginning of His marvels.
With a Heavenly perspective, with the accurate Godly vision of the saints who’ve gone before me and of the angels whom we will humbly judge, I can do life right. With a Heavenly perspective, I can be a good employee, a Christlike husband and father, a responsible bill-payer, a thoughtful neighbor, an honorable citizen.
But with a fleshly perspective, with a worldly and carnal set of eyes, I’ll spin my wheels and waste my life treating means as ends and treating gifts as gods.