There’s a book on the shelf in our daughter’s bedroom that has been a favourite of all four children. Not Now, Bernard, by David McKee, tells the story of parents too preoccupied to notice a monster has eaten their child.
Like Bernard’s parents, there are so many things that compete for our attention: work, families, hobbies, the list goes on. Unquestionably we have a real challenge preventing them from becoming more important or more of a priority than our relationship with God.
Jesus said, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only” (Matt. 4:10) It’s true we don’t set out with the intention of ‘worshipping’ these other things, but they can easily control our thoughts and energies. Allowing God to hold the central place in our lives keeps these things from turning into gods.
But in a world that encourages ‘self’ how do we live a life with God at the centre? The world tells us men to be someone, to achieve, to live the good life. However, the life of a Christian is characterised by selfless service to God, flowing from a love for Him and our neighbour. Any success, influence or talents we are blessed with is set aside for building the Kingdom (Matt. 25:14-30).
Perhaps foremost is the discipline of daily prayer and time reading our Bibles. By spending time in God’s Word we’re able to draw on wisdom, encouragement, comfort and inspiration for every conceivable situation we could face. Making God our first port of call enables us to face all things in His strength.
But putting Him first is also revealed in how we answer some simple questions:
Is God first in our relationships?
Can our love for God sustain a difficult relationship, with a partner, child or sibling? Can we still extend unconditional love to that person at work or across the street who we really don’t like? “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death” (1 John 3:14).
Is we are in work is God first in the workplace?
No matter where our workplace is: home, office, factory, building site, behind the wheel, we serve God, who expects our work to reveal integrity and true diligence. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col. 3:23).
Is God first in our church life?
Each of us has been blessed with unique gifts. By humbly serving in our church we’re building up the Kingdom of God. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12:27).
Is God first in the giving of our time and money?
Do we have a generous spirit? Inviting God’s sovereignty over our finances and time brings fullness and contentment. Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
Is God first in our leisure?
Hobbies and interests help us to unwind from the routine of life; to relax, to let off steam, to be entertained, and that’s great, we just need to be wise with our choices, ensuring we’re not preoccupied in the pursuit of the next buzz, the next rush. “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16).
Ultimately it’s not a case of ‘God first then focus on the rest of our lives’. But rather that God is in everything and in every way a part of our daily living. Its being intentional about making God’s agenda our agenda, God’s will our will, caring about what God cares about; because we live every day with an awareness of the presence and power of Him. “‘For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). God is worthy of our attention in everything we do, in everything we say, and in everything we think.
Think about how our time reflects our relationship with God. Are we too busy for God? What needs to change in our lives to devote ourselves more fully to Him? How can we better lead our families? How can we better set an example and be a witness to our colleagues? Is God, like Bernard, vying for our attention, warning us of a monster? Are we too preoccupied to take notice?
Image Credit: Bhavyesh Acharya