What was I thinking about at 2 a.m. that I just had to blog about? I actually think it was money, possessions, and the poor…that’s it. I was reading in John before I went to bed, the passage about Jesus being anointed by sweet Mary and he says that baffling statement, “It’s okay to waste this perfume on me, guys. You’ll always have the poor with you to help, but today I want your focus on Me.”
That used to baffle me, back when I sort of preached the gospel of “Ministry to the Poor and Equality with the Least of These is the Most Important Thing On Earth.” I went through a time, when I was making my last CD actually, where I was learning what is most valuable, what we’re really here for, and personally I was learning some lessons that I hope to have with me the rest of my life. I did need to sell and give away things that weren’t necessities, I did need to make sure in my heart of hearts I was not leaning on material goods for my security and peace, and I did need to learn to see the least of these, the orphan, the child in the sex trade, as my family. Absolutely. I will never go back to a place of not knowing and not acting. I’m glad I learned how to be involved. In the unseen realm, we are involved through awareness, knowledge, specific prayer, and entering into grief with Jesus over these tragedies and letting Him evolve our hearts in the way He chooses. In the seen realm, there are physical sacrifices we can make to reach out and do what we would hope someone would do for us if we found ourselves in such circumstances. For every loss we choose for ourselves, someone else can gain. I pray I never lose this mindset. While it is not my fault that human trafficking and starvation exist, I believe my life should look different because they do.
However, the most important thing I learned was to make sure I know the most important thing. Jesus said many, many things and He meant them all. His ministry to the poor, the example of His life (having no place to lay His head, etc.), and His statement that when we serve the poor we are really serving Him, are proof enough that He was teaching us to care, love, give, and expend ourselves and our resources for others even if that means we go without. But as I am learning in my own life right now, He also taught us to put the correct value on things, to prioritize our hearts, souls, minds and strength toward Him. I learned the long and drawn out way that I must have one allegiance, and that allegiance is not to the work I can do for Jesus/the poor/youth, etc.. That is devalued in comparison to knowing Christ my Lord. Yes, we show our love for Him through obedience, but I believe intimacy is necessary for obedience to even begin and certainly for it also to continue. Our connection to Him cannot be an afterthought or a token group prayer before we head out to do some good deeds. Our connection to Him also isn’t to make ourselves feel good and secure, like “God will bless whatever I put my hands to, because I have been sitting down to pray lately.” Look at John 15, look at the stories involving Mary and Martha. Paul basically said, “Everything I have accomplished, even the good, I consider a waste in comparison to truly knowing Jesus Himself.”
Keeping the Main Thing the main thing. It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves. It’s easy to look to productivity instead looking into the eyes of Jesus for our sense of worth, our sense of “I’m enough, I’m okay.” If God lays on our hearts a desire to commune with the poor, or whoever, our route to doing that will begin (and stay) at one place: digging in deeper in our submissive relationship with Jesus and prizing it above every idea, every exciting possibility, every job or ministry opportunity, every success and every failure. I cannot tell you how hard it is for me to daily pull away and surrender this thing of “What I Wanted to Do for God.” I lay it down to know Him, because I believe He told me to, and because I believe it is in actuality the ONLY way I can be of His service anyway. I trade it in to know Him, because I cannot serve two masters. I can’t love and protect my identities, my (spiritual) reputation, my resume, and my potential if I’m going to pursue Him. I used to think loving and serving Him was these things…but I am learning their value and the separation that is necessary.