Message Supplement for 31 July 2016–“Heavenly Priorities”

Here’s to lookin’ up, both literally and figuratively. Today’s message highlights a theme of heavenly priorities from the lectionary readings of Colossians 3:1-11 and Luke 12:13-21. The issue is how dangerous distractions can interfere with our revived faith nature. We must be vigilant, focused, and willing to manage ourselves. Are you ready for this life-enhancing challenge?

          Colossians suggests that our greatest quality is spiritual life, such that we should emphasize virtues rather than anger, conflict and fighting. If we are not mindful of our vulnerabilities then we’ll embrace diverse vices and destructive habits, all of which drain our soul and keep us spiritually asleep. To fully realize our new status as God’s children we must think and act like renewed beings. Cast aside what holds you back and embrace the life-giving Spirit. Rise and shine through the power of God.

          Our supreme nature is spiritual rather than physical, hence we are encouraged to overcome the earth-bound forces holding us back. Keeping ourselves on the path of righteousness is not easy, nor is it supposed to be. Humans are physical beings with necessary, earthly attachments. We become stronger through each challenge, and this explains why embracing and overcoming obstacles helps us. As beings connected with a material universe we must not deny hard reality. However, although we are governed by the laws of physics doesn’t mean denial of our spiritual nature, which will set us free from total dependence on chance and the forces of nature. 

          Colossians describes our status with God as similar to being blessed with a new sense of identity. Therefore, we shouldn’t allow negative talk and attitudes to enslave us. Rather, as children of the Kingdom of Heaven, we clothe ourselves in love, mercy and grace. A great benefit accompanies renewal of our true self, which is also known as freedom from darkness. We can’t control the universe, but we can make progress with our little slice of it. All the more so is this true as we turn to God for true life.

In Luke, the theme of priorities continues. There’s a curious incident where a man asked Jesus about presiding over a family inheritance. Jesus refused to judge such issues. So strong was Jesus’ refusal to settle the man’s problem that it prompted a story. The wealthy man described in Jesus’ resulting 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 reversed his priorities. The sad man now faced a crushing irony: God told him that all he had labored for would be taken by others. If he had better managed his spiritual life then he’d have hope for enduring bliss even after death.

          Jesus reminds us that we should store up for ourselves treasures in heaven. Because of our dual spiritual-physical nature, we can lose sight of heavenly matters amid day-to-day struggles and temptations. This is why Jesus cautions against becoming so enamored with earthly existence that we lose sight of life’s deeper truths. We must be citizens of two realms at once, both heaven and earth. The former is our true, eternal home but the latter, the harsh crusty land upon which we tread, is a minefield for those who choose to be unaware. To thrive, we must prioritize and master how we think and act. To do otherwise risks giving-in to dangerous distractions.

It’s helpful when we can turn to scripture and remind ourselves about who and what we are. Even more important is the striving to act more like the redeemed children of God that we are becoming. Let us therefore yearn for guidance, from our God who shares the Spirit of love and truth abundantly. Choose now to 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