The most important thing is …

by Jim on 4 June 2007

The most important thing

God!

Welcome to the 5th post in our series, which is answering the question – what is the most important thing?  So far we’ve talked about three things that, though important, aren’t the most important.

The first was results, which, though very important, didn’t win the prize.  What about doing?  Is the most important thing doing good things?  Obviously that’s very important – but not the most important.  How about being?  Surely character is the most important thing.  Well, yes, it’s important, but there are still problems with saying it the most important.

Now, after all this suspense, you’re feeling betrayed – you’re feeling cheated!  God is the most important?  Of course! you say.  We were expecting something profound!

Not so fast.  Sure, we all think it’s obvious – after all, if there is a God, by very definition God must be the most important!  But the truth is, we often don’t think this way, and we more often don’t live this way.

Too often we put all the focus on results.  If things aren’t going well, we feel helpless.  Or we focus on what we’re doing – and if we can’t do anything we think is useful, we feel useless.  Perhaps we put the focus on who we are – pretty important, I agree.  But too often we find that we’re not even living up to our own expectations, never mind God’s!  And if we fail here, what hope is there?

Well, there is hope, because ultimately, it doesn’t depend on us.  It doesn’t depend on you or I, and it’s not all about you or I.  It all goes back to the Creator, the One who started it all, and the One who has it all under control.

We talked in previous posts about the dangers of over emphasizing each point.  Well, it’s hard to over emphasize God, but you can run into trouble if you ignore what God has said about the other three things – results, doing and being.

Let’s say you things are going poorly for you.  You might start to be fatalistic – "oh well, it’s all up to God anyway".  A fatalistic attitude ignores the fact that we personally have responsibility.  Or we might be angry at God – as if all our problems are His "fault".  And yet, again, the Bible makes it clear that we are responsible for the fallen state of the world – humankind has sinned, and we personally have sinned.  Recognizing that God is the most important doesn’t mean that none of us have a part to play in His purpose.  But it does mean that He has a purpose, and that He is in control of the ultimate results.

And what if things are going well for us?  Well, it may just become and intellectual game; we may become detached.  Again, we should have ultimate confidence in God, but we shouldn’t misunderstand God and the part we play in showing the world His glory.

Let me give a couple of illustrations from Scripture.  First, a story – the story of Lazarus.  It’s a good illustration of all 4 points.  Jesus raised him from the dead (God – in ultimate control).  Lazarus became alive (Being), and he obediently came out of the tomb (Doing).  The result?  Many believed in God!

As you can see (and we’ll talk about this when we sum up in our next post on this subject), there’s a circle here – it all goes back to God in the end, and His glory.

If you really want to delve and see how these 4 things work, an interesting place to start is John chapter 14.  Write down what parts relate to each.  Appropriately, the chapter starts with believing in God.  Jesus interweaves all these things throughout the passage.  For example, If you love me (a focus on God, and on being), keep my commandments (doing).  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever (back to God again).

Of course, these things are all throughout Scripture – it’s interesting to read with these in mind.

It’s so important to keep things in order, whether in success or failure.  In the midst of success, we must remember to bring the glory back to God (in other words, realize and verbalize the fact that God is really the one who brings success).  In the midst of failure, we don’t need to despair – God has things under control.  It doesn’t all depend on us.  Better still, He can pick us up and give us another chance.  He can use us even when we feel like we’ve made an impossible (and I mean impossible) mess of everything.

Or there may be times we just feel confused, out of control, or useless.  When we’re sick in a hospital bed and others must care for us, isn’t it great to know that God still has a plan for us?  When we’re sick and so confused of mind that we can’t even pray, isn’t it great to know that the Holy Spirit can pray on our behalf?  God loves us and cares for us even when it seems there is nothing we can do.  And quite often when we can do little in the eyes of the world, He still uses us through our prayers and our endurance under trials.

He has a plan.  And He’s a God of love (He wants what’s best for us) and a God of power (He’s able to deliver!).  Isn’t it good to really know the grace and peace of God?

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Denny May 30, 2008 at 2:13 pm

Not sure anymore about God has a plan for your life. If it is it is not very specific. The whole concept of seek and you will find has not worked for me. God answers those whom he has chosen. Not all who seek him. I believe in him, but question his belief in me or choosing me. Apparently not no matter how much I desire it. Got to see the whole not just the pieces we like.

Jim May 30, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Hi Denny,

Thanks for your comment! You ask some great questions. I can tell there’s a lot of frustration behind them. I’m not sure how well I can answer without understanding the circumstances behind the questions, but I can say a few things.

First, I do think that Jesus’ promise of seeking and finding is for everyone in general. He says in Matthew 7:8 that everyone who asks, receives.

But what will we receive? That might be a harder question. In the context of Jesus’ teaching here, He does talk about looking for the kingdom (Matthew 6:33) and His righteousness. He wants us to look for God’s honour on the earth, and He wants us to look to live a life that pleases God. In fact, He specifically says that we should be putting these things first, rather than being worried about the other things in life.

So whatever else Jesus is saying, He is saying that everyone who seeks and asks and knocks – sounds like someone with determination – will find that righteousness and God’s kingdom – in other words, God Himself.

Deuteronomy 4:29 says again that we will find God if we search with all our heart and soul.

It may not be easy, in this world.

Not only that, God says clearly that we can expect problems in this world. In Deuteronomy, the verse is in a passage talking about the problems that will come when people turn from God. In Matthew 5, Jesus talks about those who are following Him – how they will be insulted and mistreated.

In Acts 14:22, Paul and Barnabas taught that we must go through a lot of hardship.

So God understands that life is not easy, and that the seeking is not easy either. Just because it is not easy for you doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a plan for you, and that He hasn’t “chosen” you.

Actually, Matthew 7 is one of my favourite passages – particularly Matthew 7:11. Jesus acknowledges that life is hard, and the search is hard. But through it all, God is a loving Father.

He’s not playing jokes on you or torturing you just for fun, or ignoring you. He does care about your daily life.

In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus compares us to the sparrow. God cares about the sparrow – don’t you think He loves you? In fact, he cares so much He even knows how many hairs you have on your head this moment!

That’s pretty individual and specific, isn’t it?

Don’t be afraid, Jesus says in Luke 12:32 – God wants to give you the kingdom.

No, life may not turn out as we want it. It may be hard. But the Bible says that God cares about us specifically and individually. He cares about every moment of your life.

That doesn’t mean he will give you a daily schedule of exactly what His plan is! But it does mean that if you search for God with your whole heart, the greatest treasure and joy will be yours – God Himself. (Psalm 16)

Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27:14)

I’m not sure if I understood your questions and comments – feel free to ask more if you want.

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