Week 3: Grow – Understand the Gospel
Day 4: The Deeper Issue – A Different Way to Think About Sins
When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest, I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now. In so far as I learn to love my earthly dearest at the expense of God and instead of God, I shall be moving towards the state in which I shall not love my earthly dearest at all. When first things are put first, second things are not suppressed but increased.
Read Matthew 6:25–34
For many pious people, this is a favorite verse: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33). However for the not-so-pious (like the rest of us), this sounds like a dangerous verse.
It sounds like we are to seek God’s kingdom and trust God to seek our needs and enjoyments, but we might fear that God may not be as motivated about our enjoyments as we think he should be. We have all seen very religious people, and many of them do not seem to be enjoying themselves at all. You may be tempted to think that this seems like one of those spiritual ideas that is impractical in what we call “real life.”
Just for a few minutes, consider the possibility that this mystical instruction of Jesus has a completely practical reason behind it. That reason is that the way to fully experience most everything we want to experience is not by seeking the things directly, but by seeking something else.
We want intimacy. But no one who seeks intimacy for its own sake finds it for long. We want to be happy, but those who are constantly trying to be happy are among the world’s most miserable people. Very few people who do things to be significant find themselves feeling significant. It is very common for those seeking peace from stress to be riddled with anxiety, and for the most devout thrill seekers to be bored out of their minds. Most every true pleasure we chase after comes as the product or accompaniment of something else and vanishes like mist when we seek the thing itself.
C.S. Lewis called this the paradox of “first and second things” in an essay by that title. If you want the pleasure of sublime beauty, seek the sunset, the sea or the mountain vista. If you want the greatest pleasure from food, work up a good appetite. If you want great sex or great sport, do it for the love of your spouse and for competition. In the end, you will find that the more you forget about your pleasures, the more they will find you. And if you want everything, seek the only One who is common to all, the Savior-Creator and his great kingdom of righteousness.
You see, what seems like mysticism in the mouth of Jesus is simply a practical principle that runs all through real life. Seek the right thing, and you find everything. Seek the wrong thing, and you find nothing. The misunderstanding of this point is the dirty little secret of modern, affluent unhappiness. But the proper understanding of it is the gigantic happiness secret of the Gospel.
The inversion of these things, dependent things (second things) with ultimate things (first things), is called something different in the Bible. In the Bible, proper devotion to first things (God) is called “worship.” Devotion to something that isn’t ultimate is called “idolatry.”
There’s more where that came from…
Blueprint starts at High Point Church on September 14! Come for the sermon on “Week 1: Connect with God” at 9am or 10:45am and stay after to get a famous pulled pork potato smothered in cheese at the Annual BBQ.