Sunday, December 2, 2007

The First Commandment

I read so much about hearing God's call. I hear a lot of people talk about it, too. And the emphasis is always on the "to do" of God's call. The questions are always phrased, more or less, as "What has God called you…to do???" If we look at it that way, our work, our efforts, our life will be all about the tasks. We will be task-driven. Service-driven. Purpose-driven if you will. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that tasks, service, and purposes are bad. On the contrary. We need them if we wish to have a meaningful life. But I think it's important to realize that our calling is not to a task, a thing, a ministry… but to God Himself. Jesus, when He called the disciples, didn't tell the disciples what they were to "do," other than to follow Him. I fundamentally believe that we are called, first and foremost, to follow, love, obey, and worship God alone. Not our "calling," whatever that may mean. If it is a calling to do that we are obeying, worshipping, loving--then where is God??? Is it possible that Christian service could , very possibly, take God's rightful throne in our hearts???

I'm not just making this stuff up. Check this out:

Now while they were on their way, it occurred that Jesus entered a certain village, and a woman named Martha received and welcomed Him into her house.
And she had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord's feet and was listening to His teaching.
But Martha [overly occupied and too busy] was distracted with much serving; and she came up to Him and said, Lord, is it nothing to You that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me [to lend a hand and do her part along with me]!
But the Lord replied to her by saying, Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things;
There is need of only one or but a few things. Mary has chosen the good portion [that which is to her advantage], which shall not be taken away from her.
Luke 10:38-42 (Amp)

Christ says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. He also told Martha that there is need of only one or but a few things. And He is the main thing, because He deems that Mary has chosen the "good portion." Christ tries to keep it so simple for us. And we constantly complicate it for ourselves. I believe that often we, like Martha, get distracted with much serving. Overly occupied and too busy. And we lose sight of what is really important. What is my calling? We ask ourselves. What we should be asking instead is, To Whom am I called???

I am called first to Jesus. After that, whatever He asks me to do, I will do. But I am called to a relationship with Him. Serving, ministry, and everything else, should flow from that main thing.

Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but God was pretty clear when He said this:

I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.
You shall not make yourself any graven image [to worship it] or any likeness of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;
You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me,
But showing mercy and steadfast love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:2-6 (Amp)

It is so easy, I think, as a Christian to let service (all in the name of God, of course) become our god. I am realizing how easy it is to slip into this. God is bringing me back to Himself. My calling, my purpose, my ministry, my reason for living is God. Obviously, if I am keeping Him at the center I will want to express that in many different ways. Sometimes that may mean serving, sometimes that may mean listening. Resting. Breathing. Being.

Here are our marching orders, direct from the Son of Man Himself:

And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. Mark 12:30 (Amp)

It always boils down to this, doesn't it???