Message for Sunday 4 August 2019: “Heavenly Priorities”

Today’s lectionary-based message highlights a theme of heavenly priorities (Colossians 3:1-11 and Luke 12:13-21). A central issue is emphasizing spirituality over distractions.

            The Colossians verses emphasize the value of spirituality, nurtured by virtues that overcome anger and numerous interpersonal conflicts. If you are not mindful of your vulnerabilities then diverse vices and destructive habits creep in, all of which drain your soul, harm your neighbor, and feed self-destruction. To fully live as God’s child you are encouraged to think and act like a renewed being. “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)” (Colossians 3:5). Cast aside what holds you back and embrace God’s life-giving Spirit.

            Humans’ core nature is spiritual rather than physical, hence the impetus to overcome earthly distractions weighing against your spirituality. Keeping yourself on the path of righteousness is a necessary, constant struggle. Humans are physical beings yet well-managed daily living can overcome challenges and promote strength, much like steady gym-work helps you lose weight and build muscle. Although much of material life is governed by the laws of physics this doesn’t mean denying spiritual realities, which will set your soul free from the destructive and distracting forces of nature.

            Colossians further describes your status with God as similar to being blessed with a new sense of identity. Paul the writer reminds God followers that you ”have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). Therefore, reject negative talk and attitudes which enslave and ensnare. As a child of the Kingdom of Heaven clothe yourself in love, mercy and grace. Freedom from darkness is a great benefit that accompanies soul-renewal. You can’t control the universe, but you can make progress with your bit of it.

In the Luke verses, the theme of priorities continues. There’s a curious incident where a man asked Jesus about presiding over a family inheritance, which Jesus refused to judge. The wealthy man described in Jesus’ parable was fatally self-centered, consumed with worry about how to store his overflowing crops. Apparently awash with greed and materialism, the man lost touch and made poor choices.  “ ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ “ (Luke 12:20).  If that man had better managed his spiritual life then he would have experienced unsurpassed bliss.

            Jesus reminds us that we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. It’s easy to lose sight of heavenly matters amid day-to-day struggles and temptations. This is why Jesus cautions against preoccupation with material existence if it causes you to lose sight of your essential spiritual nature. It’s hard to be a simultaneous citizen of both heaven and earth. The spiritual realm is your true, eternal home but the latter, the harsh crusty land upon which you walk, is also part of humans’ present reality. To thrive, you must prioritize and master how you think and act amid a minefield of distractions and disruptions. To choose otherwise risks your spiritual health and vitality.

God wants you to remain vigilant, focused, and willing to manage yourself. Are you ready for this life-enhancing challenge? It’s helpful to be reminded about who and what you are as God’s spiritual child. Therefore yearn for guidance, from a God who shares the Spirit of love and truth abundantly. Awaken yourself and claim your rightful spot as God’s precious follower. The only thing you stand to lose is the distracting baggage weighing you down.  –Reverend Larry Hoxey

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