God does NOT want to be first place in your life!
Like every lie, it always sounds so deceptively correct.
After all, it sounds like it should be a “good Christian” thing to do right? If God is first place in your life then you’re doing something right – you’re putting Him above all else. He is first, then your family, then work, then everything else – sounds correct, right? Wrong!
It puts God on a list, and that’s insulting to Him!
Well meaning people have told me:
Bas, there are many things that clamor for your attention and devotion: your job, spouse, hobby – the demands and distractions of life. You need to be careful not to let other things become more important or more of a priority than your relationship with God. Make sure you keep God first place in your life!
At the time I thought this was wisdom speaking. Therefore I swallowed it hook, line and sinker, not knowing I was being kidnapped by high sounding nonsense! Like every lie I’ve believed, it kept me in bondage.
What people mean by “putting God first place” is that you need to prioritize Bible reading, prayer, and other “spiritual acitivities” above everything else. The implication is that everything else is “worldly” and therefore not as good as the “spiritual” things.
This mindset says there is a division between the sacred and the secular; a distinction is made between what is spritual and what is worldly. According to this mindset your priority list would look like this (the line indicates the distiction):
- God (Sacred/Spiritual)
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In the sacred or spiritual category are things like worship, church attendance, prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, tithing, speaking in tongues, volunteering and obedience. And what is secular or “worldly”? Everything else, which includes basicly 95% of where ordinary people – like you and me – spend their lives and energy: family, friends, work, hobbies, and interests.
To put it bluntly: this distinction is unbiblical!
To make a distiction between spiritual and worldly is false and reveals a deep misunderstanding of the nature of a Christian. What makes something “spiritual” or “worldly” is the nature of the person not the nature of an activity.
You are a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body. Because you are a spirit being, everything you do is “spiritual.” The who determines the do.
Since you are a spiritual being who lives in a human body everything you do is 100% spiritual and 100 % natural. There isn’t a single acitivity you do today that isn’t spiritual.
Every action is spiritual because you are a spirit being.
So the next time you put your hands to work, change diapers (that’s the stage I’m in with our daughter Anouk), enjoy your hobby, sip away your favorite drink – remember that all those physical activities are just as spiritual as praying, Bible reading, worship, etc.!
The false dichotomy between the sacred and secular has been forever abolished in Christ. Such thinking belongs to both paganism and ancient Judaism – Frank Viola.
Why Christ is not first place in your life
Colossians 3:3-4 gives us clarity, “Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators – is with Christ in God. He is your life” (Amp.). Christ is not first place in your life – He IS your life! That statement clarifies a lot of things. He is not just in your life, He is your life. Jesus Christ is the very essence of your life.
Christ is in you, with you, joined to you, and present in all aspects of your life. He’s everything to you: “To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21). Notice Paul doesn’t say that Christ is important to him. He says that “to live is Christ.” Paul is not trying to give Christ a proper place among other things. Instead, he is recognizing the fact that Christ is everything to him.
Christ is your life. He doesn’t want to be first place in your life. He is the substance of everthing about you and in you. If Christ is your life, then you can’t put Him first place – or second, or third for that matter. He can only BE one thing – your life, expressed through you each day. So even though this advice to keep God first place in your life sounds good, it’s nothing but a lie.
Instead of legalisticly trying to keep God first place in your life I invite you to come of the religious treadmill to rest in the fact that Christ is your life. Your “priority list” regarding Christ should look like this:
1. Christ is your life – in your family
1. Christ is your life – in your work
1. Christ is your life – in worship, prayer, Bible reading, church attendance
1. Christ is your life – in your hobbies and interests
1. Christ is your life – in your parenting, coffee drinking, joking around & bathroom breaks…
Notice, Christ is always nr. 1! Why? Because He is your life! Since He is your life God cannot be put first place in your life. He is the substance of who you are! He is your identity!
There’s no sense in comparing Jesus with other things and ranking Him as number one. He isn’t separate from all other activitities; He is intimately involved in every part and moment of your life.
My life transformed when I realized God was always with me and that I’m meant to “encounter” God in everything I do. When I believed this, I started to experience it. In everything and everywhere, I am with Jesus and am able to experience Him. When I walk, talk, work, eat, play and go to the toilet.
Outside of Christ, I would seek to encounter God. In Christ, I am in a permanent encounter with God. Therefore, I am not seeking for the encounter of a life-time; I am in a lifetime of encounter! – Bas Rijksen
“Encoutering” God used to be something I tried to make happen through my “spiritual”activities. But it became effortless because I am already in a lifetime of encounter.
The practice of “spiritual” activities are no longer “special” or better than the other things I do. All activities during the day are an invitation to hang out with Jesus, talk to Him, listen to Him and do life together.
How to experience abundant life
Certainly there are many thing that clamor for our attention. And yes, demands and distractions in our lives are real. But unlike the religious advice I received, I don’t have to worry about letting other things become more important or more of a priority than my relationship with God because I’m incapable of keeping God first place in my life – I’m free of that lie.
That doesn’t mean I don’t cultivate my relationship with God. I do. I talk with God, listen and actively fellowship with Him – both when having time alone and throughout the day – in order to discover more of Him and experience abundant life.
But the key to experience God’s abundant life – His love, peace, joy, power – is NOT by trying to:
keep God in His rightful place in our priorities
make God first in your life so that you will prosper and that joy and peace will increase
have little or no possessions or fleeing from all “wordly” pleasures (I’m not promoting excessive self-indulgence though:))
To experience abundant life and walk in fullness of love and power is to stay actively aware of His indwelling presence – knowing He IS the very essence of your life.
To experience abundant life is to be Christ- or Spirit-conscious. As Romans 6:8 says, “To be Spirit-minded is life and peace.” In other words, choose to stay conscious of His joyous presence and you’ll get wrecked by His supernatural joy and love. As you depend on Him, you can’t help but experience and manifest the Person that’s living in you.
Your Grace walk isn’t about trying to keep God first place in your life, but about God expressing Himself through you wherever you are.
Enjoy not putting God first place in your life, but the resting in Who He is and who you are in Him and the effortles bearing of fruit as a result.
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