Priorities…do we have them?
Should we have them?
Most of us would probably say yes to both of these questions. We all have priorities even if we are not aware of them. Often we don’t actively make “something” a priority but we will function in ways that informally assign greater or lesser significance to that “something” and this determines how much attention we give to it. In other words we have given that “something” a priority somewhere on our scale of what we need to pay attention to, devote time to, pray about, financially support or ignore.
Some of us are better than others at actively setting priorities for our lives and regularly reviewing them. Others of us are less inclined to be active in priority setting. Sometimes I find that I have no priorities regarding a specific area because I don’t know enough about it or I haven’t given it sufficient thought. When it comes to our legal system ignorance of the law is not sufficient reason to absolve us of guilt or release us from the consequences of our actions. Thankfully it is a little different when it comes to matters of faith, we serve a loving, patient and forgiving Father, but that should not absolve us of all responsibility…one day we will stand before Him and have to give account for our lives.
As to the second question that I posed, I have already in part answered it. Asking “should we have priorities” allows us, I think, the opportunity for reflection, re-assessment and re-orientation (or change). I would like to give you an opportunity for reflection in the form of a scenario that we had posed in one of our studies:
Imagine there are two rooms each filled with a hundred people. All of these people are “lost”, they have never heard the gospel. You and a friend, who like you is a believer, are given access to one of these rooms. You have been instructed that you have only a hundred opportunities to “witness” or share the gospel message with people. Now, imagine some time has passed and you have shared the gospel ninety-nine times. Up to this point in time you have been unaware that there is another room filled with one hundred people who have also not heard the gospel. It is at this stage that you are made aware of the situation and the other one hundred lost “people”. What will you now do with your one remaining opportunity to share the gospel? Does this change anything? Should it change anything?
Maybe like me you found that rather confronting on first hearing/reading it. The more I thought about it the less confronting it seemed rather it became more stimulating. Initially I thought about what I would do to share the gospel. How would I go about it? Would I do group presentations to increase the number of people hearing the gospel with each sharing of the good news? Would I do some one-on-one sharing to tailor the presentation of the gospel to the individual? Were there other things that we could be doing in conjunction with “speaking” the gospel that would present the gospel in action? What balance should be employed in methods? Would I team up with the other believer and work out a combined strategy for maximum impact? Would we work alone utilising different strategies and then confer about our success/failure and let it inform how we moved forward? What about prayer….would I pray alone or with the other believer? Would one pray while the other shared? What role would prayer play and how much time should I/we devote to it? When we had a convert should/would that change things? Would we incorporate the new believer into the process and if so how? How could we best manage the time and resources at our disposal to maximise our return for the gospel? Should we be thinking in terms of maximising returns? What was the biblical position on this?
So much to think about and that was before we were given a bigger world view….a view that showed us that there were others that we had be unaware of who were also in need of hearing the gospel. This made me think about why I was unaware…was it because I was too absorbed with what I was currently doing? Was it because I just hadn’t thought to ask? Was it because I hadn’t done any research but had seen the immediate, that which was there in front of me, and just jumped in? What was God’s purpose in enlarging my world view at such a critical point in time…I deemed it critical because my resources were finite…I could share only one more time…but what about the others who believed (hopefully there were others by then) did they also have one final opportunity along with me? How would all this affect what I/we did or would our approach remain unchanged?
I feel the questions I have listed in some way reflect the way that God has grown my perspective and my priorities over the years. He has slowly but surely been at work bringing my thinking into closer alignment with His priorities and purposes giving me an increasing Kingdom perspective. His work is still incomplete but my prayer is that growth toward His likeness will continue to be a feature of my life.
In all of the possibilities presented by this scenario the overriding one is that of priorities…what should our priorities be? Or more importantly, what are God’s priorities and to what extent does what we do reflect His priorities?