I struggle with what takes priority in my life. Maybe you don’t, but maybe you’re like me and it’s hard to decide what to do first, which direction you should be going, etc. I think about these things a lot.
When I pray, I ask God all the time, “Lead me?! Show me the way I’m supposed to go?” And I know for many that seems rediculous. They know. They have a family, or a job, or a mission in life that clearly guides them and they know what they’re supposed to be doing. But for folks like me, who see the value and perspective of so many different parts of our lives, we can either feel like letting the wind take us wherever it will, or hiding our heads in the sand listening to podcasts. (Can I get an amen from my fellow Enneagram 9’s?) Neither a good option.
If you’re a focused Christian you may want to be slapping me upside the head about now saying, “Pull yourself together girl! You’re a Christian! Your priorities should be clear!” And you’re right, they probably should be, but bear with me.
Many years ago, when my sails had caught the wind of the Titus 2 movement in the circle of Christianity where I was drifting, struggling with the very question I’m writing about now, I posted a diagram I believed better described the way the Holy Spirit was teaching me to order my life. It was in response to a list a popular blogger had posted instructing the Christian wife to order her life like this:
She cited Bible passages, but something just didn’t smell right about her advice. It set uneasy with me. I thought maybe it was just me- I was having a hard time accepting a Biblical model for how I should order my life. But as I searched the scriptures, and looked at Jesus, I couldn’t find this order anywhere. Not that God shouldn’t come first, or that if you put your kids before your spouse you’re not going to have trouble, or if you put others before God or your family you’re not going to have trouble… all that is true. But a list just feels like once you cross off the first thing on the list you can move on to the next. And you can’t move on from God. You can’t cross God off your list and move on.
In fact, Jesus said some very contraversial things about marriage and family in regards to a persons relationship with God. See Matthew 10:37
The trouble I have with the list is that God encomposes everything in our lives. Nothing comes before or after him. But in him, all things find their place. So I have this diagram modeling the order of life in him in my head.
Lists are great for tasks and terrible for relationships. You can’t mark relationships off a list. So for me, when picturing how Christ orders my life, the image has to be more organic. It’s not so neat, not so linear.
So I came up with this, with Jesus’ famous last words to his disciples and the only “first” Jesus spoke defining what I’m trying to picture here. You may be sniffing out something off about now like I did with that lady’s list years ago. I’m sure there’s something wrong with this diagram. I’m sure there are things missing, but the flow of what reminds me of a drum beat, a sort of heart with a rhythm, with a flow with a circular reach feels more like a model I can visualize.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33
Jerusalem was home, it was the congregation of believers, it was where the Holy Spirit’s movement in the Christian began. But it didn’t stop there. It didn’t get marked off the list, rather it grew from there.
The direction of the Holy Spirit is to start with me, with you and move outward.
“Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive..” John 7:37-39 (emphasis mine)
The disciples were instructed to move from home, outward to the region where home dwelt, so the community and from there to “the ends of the earth” which in my diagram represents the global Church and world outreach. In the the life of the Holy Spirit this is growth, this is health, this is the organic order of life. We don’t get to check anything off the list and everything is growing in the rythm of, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33).
With sin in the mix in a fallen world, this isn’t gonna be pretty always. It’s gonna get messy. But with the Holy Spirit breathing life into our every movement, he will make something beautiful out of our messes. His faithful love will transform our weakness into a window displaying his glory.