Our culture is quite taken with the notion of living a balanced life – unfortunately, we have no idea of what this looks like. We balance the cheeseburger, fries and coke with coleslaw or a Caesar salad. We balance 9-10 hours of work with 3-4 hours of TV. We balance keeping our spouse happy with making ourselves happy. There is trouble afoot and the consequences are troubling; but for a follower of Jesus, we have the key to living in perfect balance – it comes by letting our first priority win.
My idea of a balanced life needs constant tweaking. This last week as I reflected on how I feel I realized that I was showing signs of stress – busyness and distraction are wearing me out. I wasn’t built to be a source of someone else’s success – I was made for loving God and being loved by God. The problem with this vision of my identity is that it doesn’t balance with anything else. My out of balance life results in prayers like this: “Lord, take everything that keeps me loving you – except for my bike; because you know that I can serve you with my bike.” Trouble is, God doesn’t want my service or my bike, he wants my love; ALL my love. There’s nothing else I can do to put this in balance.
Let me write today about why we should let Jesus win over our desire to live a balanced life, because he’s ultimately worth it. There was no doubt in Jesus mind and in the teaching of the first followers that Jesus’ way had to win out over every other way of thinking and living; no other priority came even close to living as a lover of God. The Jesus way believes there are 3 reasons and benefits to following:
1. We are getting ready for Jesus to come back – the day that every knee will bow and every tongue will agree with us. Jesus will be first in everyone’s priority on that day!
When we talk about our faith, this often takes a back seat – it’s uncomfortable, controversial and confrontational, but at the end of the day, we believe that Jesus is coming back and will set every priority straight. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer we set the reminder – “Let your kingdom come.” This is an end time prayer and ought to reset our daily priorities to Jesus’ priorities.
2. We experience a new relationship with God
Here are 4 metaphors for our relationship with God and they grow in intensity:
- I am a servant of God – I get to do the things he wants done in my sphere of influence.
- I am a child of God – adopted into the family, I carry his name, I have a claim on his inheritance, when I speak in his name it’s with his authority
- I am a friend of bridegroom – seeing what Jesus is doing, having insight into his ways and enjoying his friendship, we can enjoy the conversations as close friends
- I am the Lord’s choice as bride – his perfect partner! Jesus came to earth to become it’s king and to win a bride (and what Jesus wants, he gets). This is why he gives us such intimate experiences in his Word, in persecution, in worship, in fellowship with each other: we were made for perfect connection and union with God.
3. We benefit everyday when we follow the Jesus Way.
Following Jesus has great benefits to every person who goes on this path. Better parenting, repaired marriages, addictions overcome, escape from stupid poverty, improved leadership skills, strength in hard times and so on.
- This is often placed as the foremost reason to follow Jesus, but it actually ranks 3rd, far behind the first 2.
Jesus faced this question: “Which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12)
Let’s change the language of most important – I think Jesus doesn’t do a ranking system, rather it’s more like a wrestling match – in a cage match, which of God’s laws is the last man standing? Jesus, if only one law could survive and all others had to die, which would it be? Here’s Jesus’ answer:
‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Reflection Question: How does it make you feel to hear that Jesus is not interested in your service? What do you think about Jesus wanting your love more than anything? Can you see Jesus working in your life today to remove something that seems important to you but to him is keeping you from loving him completely?