Our lives are filled with choices. Some daily choices we make include what we'll wear, what we'll eat during our meals, how we'll order the events of our day, and more. But there's one choice we make moment-by-moment every day and night. It's a choice we can forget we're making. It's the personal choice of how close to draw near to God. This ongoing choice affects our relationships with Him and with everyone else we come into contact with!
"Everything in our Christian life and service flows from our relationship with God." - J. Oswald Sanders
Jesus' disciples bring this into a clearer, practical, focus.
Jesus chose 70 disciples and sent them out two-by-two to preach for Him. Later, after a night of prayer, He chose 12 to train, teach His ways, and imbibe with His Holy Spirit. Within these 12 were 3 who chose to be more intimate with Him than the rest. And of those three, one drew close enough to Jesus so as to rest his head on Jesus' chest. (John 13:25)
“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ 19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” 21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” 22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” 25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26 Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” 28 But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. 29 Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. 30 As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night. - John 13:18-30
Simon Peter was just as loved by Jesus as John and the others were. Yet because John purposely sought Jesus in greater intimacy in relationship, he was seated immediately next to Jesus. Simon Peter, close, but a greater distance away than John, motioned to John to ask the clarifying question of Jesus- due to John's proximity.
Does Jesus choose favorites? No. He's chosen each who has, and will, respond to His Spirit's calling to place their faith in Him. The access and closeness that John had is every bit available to us as it was to him. The position and proximity he had with Jesus is available to us even today! The choice is ours.
What Do You Treasure Most?
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! 24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. - Matthew 6:19-24
As we make choices throughout our days and nights, some of the choices we face involve our senses- our sight, hearing, touch, smell, etc. Our senses are portals- especially our eyes! What we choose to look at, watch, and view, shapes our choices, thoughts, decisions, and even affects our dreams when we sleep. Jesus' wisdom in verses 22-23 is powerful counsel! How much do we fix our eyes on Jesus each day/night?
Jesus also reminds us that there is MUCH more to our day-to-day lives than simply the natural- if we choose to think His way. While verse 24 tells of the choice between God and money (possessions), anything and everything other than God can be substituted in context in place of money- and can fit the role as competitor with God for our hearts, minds and lives.
The choice of a relationship with God is not a one-time decision. It's an ongoing, moment-by-moment series of decisions to place God first, inviting His opinion, wisdom, and insights into every decision we make throughout our days and nights. It's a significant part of how we fulfill Paul's words in 1 Thessalonians 5:17- "Pray continually."
Where Did Jesus Rank Today?
Heaven (eternal life with Jesus Christ) is our home, not the earth. We all will stand account before the Lord and answer for every thought, word, action we did while here on earth. So, let's prepare ourselves accordingly.
What if the Holy Spirit gave us a printout at the end of each day that indicated where Jesus ranked in our list of priorities throughout the day we just lived out? Where would He rank today? 17th, 234th, 1st, 2nd, somewhere else?
Many people, if asked this question to their face, would likely sit or stand up straight, maybe even puff out their chests a little, and proclaim, "Well, Jesus is always first in my life! I had a quiet time with him this morning." Great! Did you communicate with Him throughout the rest of the day too? Did you ask him for assistance when you were struggling to quiet your crying baby? Did you ask him to help you understand the reading assignment your teacher gave you today? Did you go to him in prayer before you began worrying for hours about the matter that was troubling you (or as soon as you began to be tempted to worry)?
So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. - Matthew 6:31-34
Seek first His kingdom (His wisdom, His impressions, His counsel, His righteousness) and all these things will be added to you as well. He knows all! Seek Him first in all things- even things that may seem mundane or commonplace. We matter to Him- as does every decision we make each day and night! His wisdom, in each choice and decision we make, should matter most to us as well.
Keep in mind the ongoing choice that's being made moment-by-moment. The choice belongs to each of us- and it matters both now and throughout eternity!