What are the things that are more important than God? The answer you tell a pastor is “no thing” is more important than God. Right. You get a gold star.
But what’s the real answer in your life? What are the things, people, ideas, or beliefs that you place first above God? What are those things that you will listen to without a second thought?
Is it your comfort? Convenience? Those may sound like easy to answer questions here. “Of course not!” Really? Did you stop to help the homeless person with a sign saying they needed some food? Or was it too inconvenient? Or did you have some other excuse for not stopping? “Well, they aren’t really that bad off.” “Well, they are just trying to get a free handout.” “They may try to mug me!” “I Don’t have time – besides, there are agencies that help people like that. I’m not trained to do what they need.” etc.
How about your stuff? Is it more important than God? Do you have a difficult time giving your stuff away? Could you give away your favorite article of clothing, book, food? How about your iPhone? Could you give that away?
What about people in your life? Any of them more important than God? Your family? Your spouse? Your kids? Parents? Siblings? Other loved ones? Could you do what Abraham almost did to Isaac – offer him up as a sacrifice – if God called on you to do that? Yikes!
How about your money? “But pastor, I give my money at church and to charity.” Great! Could you follow Jesus’ command to sell all you have and give the money to the poor? Literally give it all away?
How about being in control? Or being right? How important are these things to you?
I will tell you that I hope to God I am never tested on many of these things. I don’t know how I would fair. It’s tough to say in the moment what I would do. I’d like to think I would follow God, but I’m sinful and broken. I assume there would times I would fail this test – possibly on multiple occasions.
Throughout the Bible, we are told by God to let go of it all. Over and over again, story after story – let it go, it’s all God’s anyway. That’s true – every last word of it. And at the same time, it’s not so easy.
I read these stories and am in awe of people like Abram – who God tells to just pack it all up and leave his home and start heading out. God will let him know when he gets there. I’ve had a taste of that, but I knew I where I was going to end up at the end of the trip.
Or the story of Joseph and his brothers. Or the story of Moses and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Or Daniel. Or Esther.
I read the stories of Jesus calling people to follow him – dropping everything in the midst of whatever is going on. Could I do that? The story of Acts and the incredible things that happen. Paul’s story alone is griping. Could I ever do the same thing if I were in the same situation?
I have read the stories of martyrs and often wonder – would I have the same fortitude as they did knowing that it would cost my life?
There are many stories in the Gospels of Jesus encountering people and calling on them to follow him. And in many of these situations, they reject Jesus and his offer. I find those stories to be fascinating. I sit and think – How could anyone reject Jesus? And then I think of my own brokenness and when I have rejected Jesus.
But here’s the thing. We aren’t called to be Abram, or Moses, or Ester, or anyone else from the Bible. We are called to be us – who we are fully. None of these people in the Bible were perfect. They struggled with faith. They were broken also. And God came to them in a way that could grasp hold of. And they took a leap of faith in following God. It’s scary. It’s uncomfortable. It’s a bit insane. But it is how God works. Here’s what I know – when I have followed God, it’s always been for the better. And so I hold on to that. I remember that. I treasure that in my heart – waiting for the next time I need to remember it – the next time God calls on me to do something.