Resetting Our Pursuit
Most of us have grown accustomed to a world that has readily offered an incredible variety of options to chase. I certainly don’t mean that we have all had equal opportunities. More accurately stated, the world has always provided many things to which we could give our time, money, talents, and attention—our worship. While some of these are undoubtedly sinful pursuits, many, if not most, of them are neutral. They are neither good nor bad, just options that we can choose. But don’t miss this point: the choice that is neutral becomes sinful when we let it become central. Our hearts are revealed by what takes priority, what we enjoy most, and what we give ourselves to most—what becomes central.
We are drawn to insignificant, unworthy pleasures. Rather than focusing our attention and affections on a magnificent and worthy God, we pursue that which is fleeting, temporal, and eternally meaningless. And make no mistake, God is indeed worthy of all that we could offer:
- All the nations are as nothing before him, they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness...Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:17,28
- For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. Deuteronomy 10:17
- Psalm 47 (I’ll let you look this one up!)
Nonetheless, our hearts are easily swayed by a sin-filled world. The world insists that we ought to pursue wealth, status, and power. And we have submitted. “Doesn’t our society value intelligence, character, and integrity?” But it is worth noting, those with the highest status in our society are all, at their most basic, entertainers, doing whatever they can to garner your attention. Perhaps you question this statement. Think about this:
- Our presidential race is determined by a collection of television commercials, 90-second soundbites from “debates,” and massive rallies held by the leaders of both parties.
- Athletes, beneficiaries of an industry built almost entirely on its entertainment value, are raised as models in our communities and paid incredible salaries (I’m not stating this is wrong, but it should show the value our society is placing on entertainment).
- Some of the most recognizable individuals in our world are famous because they are capable of providing world-class entertainment on our television screens.
- Our children are growing up in a world where they want to become the next great video game streamer, the next famous YouTube personality, or the world’s greatest athlete.
Then it must come down to this for each one of us: what entertains and captivates your heart? Remember, the choice that is neutral becomes sinful when you let it become central. What has earned your attention? Your energy? Your worship? It would be far too easy to answer this question without doing the serious reflection that an honest answer requires. I’m asking you to think about the way you have spent your time over the past 3 years of your life. Think through, or perhaps go and review, how you have spent your financial resources. On a consistent basis, what have your days included? These will reveal the truth of what you prioritize and pursue. Under the intense heat of a global health pandemic, an economy that is failing, and a world that is shaken, do your pursuits and priorities stand? The reality of a heart that pursues God and His will is far more difficult to attain than a tongue that says such things.
Make This Moment Different
Much of what our hearts and minds have pursued has been stripped from us. What an opportunity! While the tragedy of the loss of life is serious and we would be foolish to take it lightly, the tragedy of the grip of sin on your heart is eternally devastating. And if your heart is given to sinful worship, then undoubtedly your child(ren) will be shaped and molded by what they see modeled. Rahm Emanuel, a politician and former mayor of Chicago, said this, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” While I would argue the political motivation behind those words was unhelpful, let us heed this advice in our own hearts and homes in this season of coronavirus induced quarantine.
It is so important that your first pursuit be your own relationship with God. Pastor Ryan wrote this, “But when else have we had so much time, so much opportunity to grow in our personal pursuits of Christ?... It would be a tragedy, then, if we were to spoil it… We could simply not take advantage of the time by pursuing more of the most important relationship we have, with our God.” I’d encourage you to take the time to read his entire post on the importance of pursuing a relationship with God that effects tremendous personal change during this season.
Secondly, pursue your spouse during this time of uncertainty. While much could be written here (and might be in a future post), I would simply encourage you to read Ephesians 5:22-33 and ask if this is how your marriage looks (short answer: it’s not, for any of us). So how can your marriage grow more into this picture so that you can better reflect the Gospel in your home and community?
Parents, Pursue Your Calling
Finally, we must take seriously our calling as mothers and fathers. Your children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3). For a moment, let the cliche nature of that statement fall away. God has entrusted the instruction and growth of your children to you. He chose you to be the parent of your child. You have been given the responsibility to shape an eternal human soul. Have you taken that responsibility seriously? Or are your children growing up in a dissonant world, one where the claim that “Jesus is the Lord of my life” has little impact on day-to-day living?
Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum in fulfilling your responsibility, we can all improve. Two of the most recognizable and well-known passages in Scripture on parenting lay the responsibility for spiritual instruction and teaching at the feet of parents.
- “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4
- “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:6-7
Parents, your calling is to make disciples for the King, the everlasting, almighty God. Unfortunately, our society unrelentingly sets expectations for our parenting. Our children must be able to pass and excel at every subject offered by schools. Parents must keep their children engaged in activities with requirements that parents can barely maintain. Your children must be skilled at social interactions and capable of “fitting in” with what the world expects. What a catastrophe when we as parents bow and submit to these demands. Scripture, the only voice to which we ought to bend our knees and hearts, requires no such framework. Instead, we ought to be pursuing and training the hearts of our children, praying that they would know and love Jesus.
In this season, under this pressure, dealing with this crisis, it is time for correct pursuits. Thankfully, because of a God who is patient (2 Peter 3:9), it is not too late. It is time to step into your calling as a parent. Put aside all that your heart has sinfully made central, and now, mothers and fathers, pursue your children. If you have ignored your own relationship with God, invite your children to grow alongside you as you press closer to the only Good Father (Matthew 7:11). Invite your spouse into your renewed pursuit for God and your children! Just imagine what your household could look like if you truly devoted yourself to holy pursuits in this season.
Do It Today!
Perhaps the comfortable and easy path forward would be to put this reading aside and turn on the television, phone, or computer. Stop! Don’t choose that path. Let us no longer continue making the neutral central. Instead, right now, choose today to pursue God, your spouse, and your children with a greater fervency and passion than you ever have previously. It will be worth it. As you glorify God with your life through the pursuit of your family, you will find that He has created you to enjoy the work of glorifying Him.
Let me leave you with a few simple ways to begin in your household:
- Worship together as a family! I don’t simply mean sing together but rather come before our God as a family and spend time with Him. Pray together, read His Words together, discuss His Words together, and yes, sing together. In hopes of helping families who may have never done this before, our church has created a video guide to walk you through family worship! Check it out on our FB page.
- Memorize scripture together! Scripture memory is one of the most underrated disciplines for spiritual growth. Storing God’s Words in our hearts and minds cannot leave us the same. As we engage with the Bible, our hearts will be drawn to the God who loves us more than we can imagine. Indeed, our only understanding of love comes from an appreciation of His deep love for us. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Choose a verse that your family can learn together, perhaps start with 1 John 4:19.
- Set aside special times just for your family. Try to take one night each week to do something fun together as family! Eat dinner together, play a board game, pop some popcorn and watch a movie, get a special snack, go to the park, etc. There are so many ways you can do this, but most importantly, talk about Jesus while you have fun!
Pray! This is one you cannot do without. (If you need help thinking through prayer, here is a helpful post by Pastor Jim.) Only God is truly capable of changing the hearts and minds of our children. God must be at work if they are to become resurrected followers of Jesus. Let us go to Him often and regularly, seeking His help as we reset our pursuits and make Him central.
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