Take a moment and list all the things you love. My list would include The Lord, my wife, our son, my mom, my brother and his family, a couple of close friends, celebrating Liturgy, other aspects of my ministry, summer camp, and mowing the lawn.
Then take a moment and write down the top ten ways you spend your waking hours. If I give an hour a day to watching TV (so seven hours a week) but have no time to spend with my family, what does that say about my family as a priority? If I take time every day to read the newspaper but never open the Bible, what does that say about my relationship with God as a priority?
I mean where does reading the newspaper rank in relation to reading the Bible in your life? How about number of hours in front of the television compared with hours in worship? How about the amount of money spent on coffee compared to how much we give to the church or to charitable causes? Do what we SAY about our relationship with the Lord actually match what we are DOING?
If we line up our priorities as they really are, and list how we spend our time as we really spend it, I think it is safe to say that there is probably a significant gap.
Jesus is very clear in the Gospel lesson today that those who love things or people more than Him are not worthy of Him. For to be “worthy” of God means to put Him first in all things.
One can argue that no one is worthy of God. For to be worthy of God would be a statement of supreme arrogance. However, no one is worthy of God because God is not truly the first for us. Every time we sin, we fail to put God first. And we all sin. If we could actually keep Him first at all times, we would be worthy of Him. Because we all sin, we will never achieve “worthiness” of God, but making a lifelong pursuit of holiness will stand us in good stead to be made worthy by Him of His Kingdom.
So what is the meaning of the Gospel today? We are all hopeless failures? The lesson is that in the ideal life, God comes first. He comes before marriage, before children, before family, before job, before sports, before temptations, before everything. The challenge of life is to not only love God but to put Him in the first place of our lives.
Again, if you took two scales and tried to balance them, placing your relationship with the Lord on one side and anything else on the other side, which side would have more weight, the side with the Lord, or the side with your family, your friends, your hobbies, sports, reading, etc? Weigh out your words—are there more words of prayer in a given week, or words of criticism, curse words, words of anger? Christ tells us that those who have made Him the priority of their lives, those who have left everything to follow, these are the ones who “will receive a hundredfold and inherit eternal life.” So, we have a challenge, but also a reward. And each day we should embrace the challenge, so that as life goes by, we can anticipate with joy the reward. Those who do not embrace this challenge have genuine fear as the time of life ebbs away. Those who have made God first greet the end of life with less fear and more joy.
There is one piece of good news I want to leave you with today and that is, if you haven’t made God a priority, it’s not too late. You can make Him a priority at any time. And today is as good a day as any to pray, worship, and love others. So, if your spiritual life is stalled, restart it today!
Your Church is arrayed in the holy blood of Your Martyrs who witnessed throughout the world, as though in purple and fine linen. Through them she cries to You, Christ our God, “Send down to Your people Your tender love, grant peace from above to Your commonwealth, and to our souls Your great mercy. (Apolytikion of All Saints, Trans. by Fr. Seraphim Dedes)
Make your relationship with God a priority today!