Over many years of being in ministry, I have heard people talk a lot about what is most important to them. I imagine that most people want to sound sincere and spiritual when talking to a pastor. Most Christians that I talk to say their relationship with God and their relationship with their family are the most important things in their lives. Yet I have discovered that saying something is a priority does not always make it a priority. You know your priorities by what you do rather than what you say. If I say that my relationship with God and my family are the most important things in my life, then my actions must support that or I am simply fooling myself.
Yet I do believe that most followers of Christ want those two things to be their priorities. It is just that they don’t know how to make them a priority. Just because you go to church does not mean that Jesus is your priority. Just because you love your family does not mean that they are priorities in your actions. This can be a frustrating thing because jobs, running a household, managing a career, getting the kids to school, and all kinds of good things clamor for our attention. It is not like these are bad things. They are necessary. God gives us these things to bless us. But they too often steal first place in our lives because of the time they demand. And it is not like we can get by without jobs, households, and schedules. Nor should we. So how do we make the most important things the most important in our lives?
What you believe about God is the most important thing about you.
What you believe about God determines everything in your life. If you are an atheist your beliefs, actions, priorities and life-plan will reflect that you don’t believe in God, his love, his grace, or that you are accountable to him. As a result, your attitude and actions reflect your belief. You will live your core beliefs.
If you are like many Christians and see God as the Big-Guy-With-The-Heavenly-Stick, you will live in fear and defeat. You see God as the overbearing, under-concerned Deity that is waiting to hit you upside the head every change he gets. Instead of believing the truth of Jesus, you believe the lies of the devil. You will live as a list keeper. You believe that God is only pleased when you get an “A” on your heavenly report card. You will live in frustration because you can never do enough, or pray enough, or give enough to measure up. Often people who see God like this become hypocritical or hypercritical. They become hypocrites when they try to approach God based on their good deeds or they get an over-inflated sense of their own righteousness when others do not keep the same list of rules they do. They become hypercritical because they see God as a stern taskmaster. Instead of living out of love, they criticize anyone and everything. We see this kind of Christianity often and it damages the cause of Christ. Non-Christians see this as overbearing, self-righteous, and mean-spirited. They are correct. This is not how God intends for us to live out the gospel. What you believe about God is the most important thing about you.
If you see God as the Bible describes him, then you will live accordingly. If you see him as a righteous, loving giver of grace, then your life and beliefs will reflect that. When you realize that your works aren’t your source of blessing but his unearned, undeserved, and unmerited grace is, then you behave differently. When you truly believe that the great exchange at the cross – our sins for his righteousness - is what brings his favor and kindness, then you see God differently. When you believe that about God it changes the way you live. It affects you behavior and your attitude. It changes everything!