Thursday, March 5, 2009

Reflecting on Our Priorities

I wrote the following article for our BGCM Message in the next issue of Word&Way.

I have been away from my home church for several months while I have been filling the pulpit for one of our churches which is without a pastor. While I have enjoyed the opportunity to preach, I was also grateful for the privilege of worshipping with my church family on Ash Wednesday. The service was the beginning of the season of Lent. Lent is the period of the liturgical year (forty days) leading up to Easter. Our pastor, Dr. Doyle Sager, and the other worship leaders helped us consider the significance of this special period in the church year. In a sense, Lent is a time of reflection as we reconsider and reorder the priorities of our lives. Because some Baptists do not follow the traditional Christian church calendar, they have missed out on the significance of this important season through the years. I believe it is important to pause of reflection, especially since many of us live very hectic lives.

A few days ago I was listening to a news broadcast concerning the condition of our nation’s economy and all the factors contributing to our current recession. The commentator mentioned the downturn in our economy had forced many people to reconsider their spending priorities. I thought about the fact that many non-profit organizations, institutions, churches and Christian ministries have been forced to deal with a loss of revenue. Obviously, some people have lost their jobs and had other economic setbacks that have made it difficult for them to continue supporting their church and other charitable causes at the same level as their past support. While this is understandable, I wonder if some of the lost revenue may be more a reflection of new priorities. Stressful times cause some people to be more selfish and others to be even more generous in their giving.

Jesus often talked with his disciples about their priorities. In Matthew 6:24 he said, "No one can serve two masters. 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 both God and Money.” In chapter 16, verse 24, says, Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” The Christian life is about a new set of priorities. It is about what we give up, who we serve, and what is really important.

Life experiences sometimes cause us to reflect. The death of a loved one may cause us to remember what really matters. Economic stresses caused by a recession, a job loss, or poor choices may lead us to re-evaluate our personal spending priorities. No one would desire a recession, a personal financial setback or other crisis, but sometimes God uses difficult times in our lives to help us pause for reflection. What is really important? Do we really need all the “stuff” we think we need? What is the best use of our time and energy? How can we become the person God created us to be? What is the purpose of life? Maybe this Lenten season offers us a special time for reflecting about our lives. I think it would be a great time for us to allow God to help us see ourselves. May God guide us as we reflect on our priorities.