Sunday, October 5, 2014

First Place

"Dear Children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts."  (1 John 5:21, NLT)

It's a lesson we've heard since the first Sunday School class we attended.  God wants to have first place in our hearts.  Nothing else is more important.  We've sung songs about it, seen flannelgraph (just shows how old I am), and memorized verses like this one.  But somehow, somewhere things changed ...

As I find myself staring at my 2nd half-century, I want to ask the question again.  What, other than God, am I letting have the top spot in my heart; what really is my focus?  I think the truest answer comes with some introspection and that rarely comes easily.  So if I'm going to write about it, perhaps I need to dig just a little deeper.

Sure the multiple translations that render this verse as something about watching out for idols are good.  They are certainly faithful to the original intent, but I think the Beloved Apostle, sitting in exile on Patmos, had something a little more personal in mind.  Once again, I find that richness in the way Eugene Peterson frames the final words of 1 John in his transliteration The Message:

And we know that the Son of God came so we could recognize and understand the truth of God - what a gift! - and we are living in the Truth itself, in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This Jesus is both True God and Real Life. Dear children, be on guard against all clever facsimiles. (1 John 5:20-21)

That's what John was warning the early church about ... "clever facsimiles".  And that's what I need to look out for as well when I examine my own heart and life.  I'd never overtly put something else in first place - but I might subtly do that.  It might even look like "serving God" when it really is filling my own ego.  And it happens when I forget the awesome nature and love that redeemed me in the first place.

So as my Crooked Path winds through my 2nd decade, I want to keep the my Father in my sight and my Divine Brother closer than ever.  And I want to do it in such a way that it leaves no doubt who holds first place in my heart.

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