"Why'd you go saying that?"
Normally, I won't blog about the sermons I hear on Sundays...it's too akin to plagiarism for me. Don't get me wrong. I have a Pastor very gifted at always leaving me with something to chew on each Sunday. This past Sunday was Youth Sunday at the church I attend, so the message was delivered by our Youth Pastor, also a gifted man of God. As he began speaking on commitment to God and putting Him first in our lives, it immediately connected with a blog I had drafted a few weeks back but never finished. The Sunday message was so attuned to the blog subject, I was certain my task was to finish and share it today.
I work with a man from China. He has lived here for about 7 years and 2 graduate degrees. His English is broken (at best), and he will often wander into my office to discuss the subtleties of our difficult, indigenous language. Always pleasant and mannerly, we jokingly exchange innocent jabs at each other's culture, which has been a field day for me of late with all the tainted products China has been shipping to the U.S.
One day at lunch, I asked what he observed to be the biggest difference between life in China and life in the U.S. After pausing a moment, he said the priorities of the people in each culture were very different. In China, the State/Party is first, followed by your job, then your family and finally your belief system...if you happen to have one. He elaborated and gave examples in each category, and when it came to belief systems, explained that most Chinese are atheist. He too is an atheist.
I was very interested to hear his comparison. He said that people here put their belief in God first, family second, country next and job last in this particular listing. My initial reaction was a bit surprised. We work with about 22 people from a variety of beliefs (to include none), most not from Godly perspectives. 'God first?' I did consider that his entire 7 years had been spent in the Bible Belt, but his exposure was uncensored from many other sources. 'God first?' Really?
It was both natural and comfortable for me to agree with his assessment about our country and give examples from my own life. But in doing so, I felt... a conviction. That conviction multiplied yesterday during the morning message.
'Tony, Am I truly number 1 in your life?'
Father, I'm not sure that my life exemplifies what my co-worker attributed.
'But, I have commanded you so.'
Yes, I know, I know...but work is so busy, and the new baby and the teenager...wow, and my blog...yes, my blog is important work for You...
'Making fun of Liberals? Hippies in a van? Freedom Rock?'
Yeah, sorry about that one. But liberals...well they hate You! They need to be put in their place!
'Tony, I love liberals too.'
'Yes, especially San Fransisco liberals.'
Aw shoot, I guess that means I need to love them too...I mean...I guess.
'Only if I'm truly first in your life.'
My conviction didn't stop at making fun or talking harsh about liberals though. Is God truly first in my life? Am I committed to Him completely in all that I do? Do I set a daily example that gives God glory in the way that I conduct my life? Am I an effective witness for Christ and the sacrifice He made for all of mankind? Do I take time from each day to spend with God and only with Him?
Even though I try very hard to make God first, I'm afraid I don't like the real answers to those questions. Actually...I'm quite ashamed.
Stupid Youth Sundays...where was our regular Pastor anyway?! And, how can he just leave like that?!
'Does that really matter... Tony?
No. He steps on my toes too.
I'm starting today...total commitment...right after lunch. Hey, how about Chinese take-out? No wait, aw man...I'm on a diet! Stupid diets!