The hatred in the world is growing by leaps and bounds. Here in the United States, the topics of immigration, LGBTQ, politics, terrorism, environmental issues, health care are constantly divisive issues among Americans. These are even causing divisiveness among Christians. With this, we have let the minors become majors.
A minister had a sign on his door that read, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” We have let the secondary, and even the tertiary things of this world become the main things, pushing the main thing off to the side.
Who makes these issues seem to be the most important things in our lives? We usually blame politicians, the media, and others for this, but is that really the case? You have to ask yourself whether or not you have control of your own thoughts, or have you allowed others that privilege? We must take responsibility for our own thoughts, and how we set our priorities. In Philippians 4:8, Paul tells us, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” When these worldly issues are placed before us, they are presented as noble causes, as fighting for those who have been wronged, or we’re told that it is just the right thing to do. On the surface, this appears to be correct, and so we jump into the fray.
There is an old ploy in negotiations called a red herring. The term comes for the practice of dragging a salt-cured herring fish across a trail to confuse hunting dogs, thus meaning that a red herring is something that distracts attention from the real issue. What would these issues be distracting us from, and why? Go back to Paul’s exhortation to see what it is that we should be thinking. If you look at it deeply, you realize that it demands our focus on the things of God, not on the things of earth. Satan would love to see us take our focus off God’s will and focus on the meaningless things. When we are fooled into becoming emotionally involved with these issues, we begin to argue amongst ourselves, defending our reasoning on the topic. Our ego gets involved, and it’s downhill from there.
What is our priority? As Christians, it is to be obedient to God. When Saul disobeyed God, Samuel rebuked him and said, “Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)
Being obedient to God can be interpreted subjectively in our minds, so we must be careful that our views on these worldly topics don’t lead us astray. We must have a litmus test to ensure that our actions are correct.
We’ve seen how the Pharisees and others were constantly trying to trick Jesus. Regardless of what they did, Jesus was never sidetracked. In Mark 12:29-31, we see one of these encounters. “One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’ ‘The most important one,’ answered Jesus, ‘is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Give this scripture, the next time you are involved in a conversation on one of these issues, ask yourself, “How do I keep my love for God showing through this, and to show love for others.” Is there a sin issue at the heart of the issue? If so, and usually there is, how do you discuss it, along with God’s remedy? How can you do this and show how God has the true answer for it?
Here is your challenge for the next week. Do not watch, listen, or read the news for one week. Instead, spend that time reading your Bible. At the end of the week, see what has changed in the world, in your life, and how you think. You may be surprised not only at the results, but your perspective of the issues you once felt were so important.