Don’t Put Jesus First
(Written by Josh Elke.)
Yes, you read the title of this post correctly- don’t put Jesus first. But before you label me as a heretic, let me take some time to explain.
I’m sitting in Germany listening to fireworks going off all around me as we welcome in the New Year! There is always so much fresh hope and excitement at this, the first moments of a new year. For most it is also a time of evaluation and strategy; evaluation of what is now behind us last year and strategy for what lies ahead. The strategy is often articulated through some type of New Year resolution, or possible resolutions if you’re dreaming big. I am not a big New Year's resolutions type of person, but if I had one that I would take on and pass on to others it would be this:
“Don’t Put Jesus First This Year”
I don’t know about you, but I grew up with the standard teaching or worldview of categorizing and compartmentalizing my life. The normal Christian life should look something like this:
And so on and so on...
The problem with this is you end up, through compartmentalization, putting Jesus in a single box. He is a jealous God who wants all of you.
“You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you” Ex. 34:14 NLT. It’s not that He simply doesn’t want anything else before Him, he doesn’t want ANYTHING that would steal our affections towards Him.
To simply put Jesus in the first box would be to function from a posture of pride and dare I say- idolatry. Pride would say “Jesus I give you this first place in my life. I will seek you first thing in the morning but after that... well I know what’s best for my family, my career and my health, so I can take it from here Lord.” No, He wants all of you! He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). And I don’t know about you but truth and life...those are things I want throughout every part of my life.
We could very simply say the proper Christian life should look like having Jesus at the center of it all. And I think many of us have been trying to live that way and I like that, but I think we can take it a little further. Colossians 1:15-17 says “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (emphasis added).
For in Him all things were created and in Him all things are held together. So this year we are still going to compartmentalize but its going to look something like this:
Jesus and Jesus and Jesus and Jesus...
At this point you might be asking “But how am I ever going to get anything done? Am I just supposed to pray all day long and do nothing else? How do you expect me to function or live in a life that looks like this?” First off, I don’t expect you to be able to live a life like this. Jesus talks on and on about dying to yourself. Actually, I found different authors in the Bible talk about the importance of dying to yourself over 20 times (see references below), but that’s another topic.
Do you believe God is good? Do you believe He has a good work ethic? Do you believe He cares about your family? Your job? Your health? Your finances? The reality is He is far better then we have ever imagined. He is the God of the exceedingly and abundantly more then we could ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). And He cares more deeply, and truly, about the things He has placed in your life than you could ever be. By putting Jesus in place number 2 your family won’t suffer, because He knows how to love them better then you and He won't let you neglect them. By putting Jesus in place number 3 your career won’t suffer, because He is the one who gives the spirit of wisdom and revelation and let’s face it- His work ethic far surpasses ours! Maybe you can remember the last time you created a universe in a week then still had a day to rest, and if so, then you can feel free to put yourself back in place number 3!
He really is better than we have thought and He really can be trusted to not only be the center, but also the focus of every aspect of our lives. Join me in the experiment this year of not just making Jesus your first but making Him your everything!
Scripture references on the importance of dying to self.
(Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 4:22-24, Philippians 3:8, Colossians 3:5, Luke 9:23, John 12:24, Luke 9:23-24, Romans 6:11, Romans 12:1-2, 1 Peter 4:1-2, Galatians 5:24, Romans 8:12-13, Romans 6:11-14, John 3:30, Titus 2:12, 1 Peter 4:2, Luke 14:33, Matthew 10:38, Ephesians 4:22, Galatians 6:14, Romans 6:8, Romans 6:6-7, Ephesians 4:22-23)