Have you ever watched a sitcom where a couple has its first fight and they realize that just because they had an argument, they don’t have to break up? It’s like they finally realized that the fulfillment that comes out of a relationship is not based on a utopian experience. That it is okay to have good days and bad days. That one disagreement does not have to be the death certificate for all of the good in their relationship.
It is too bad that we cannot seem to grasp this concept at church. Unfortunately, serving a perfect God does not make us perfect people. Not yet. Until the day when we take on the imperishable and incorruptible, we remain sin-prone humans that still mess up. At least, I’m pretty sure that everyone else does.
As we learn to Live Second, it seems that we just might find ourselves even lower on the totem pole than we think that means. It is obvious that we should have Christ first in our lives. But does it stop there?
Have you ever sat at the dinner table and reached for the bowl of potatoes with your left hand, only to have your right hand slap it away? That’s the right hand’s job. The left hand is for buttons on your shirt, putting your clothes on, tying your shoes and holding on to the steering while you change the radio station.
Sounds ridiculous? Then why do we operate that way at church? “Don’t do the dishes, that’s my job.” “I’m the one who chooses the Christmas program.” “I get to shake hands with everyone when they come in the door.” “Don’t touch that. I dedicated that to my aunt’s second-husband’s grandmother’s stepfather.” We put ourselves in front. We want recognition for our service that we do our own way.
And what happens? Not only are we revealing a devastating truth about the condition of our hearts, but we hurt others in the process. Forget a dating couple’s first argument. This is a blowout at the table of a blind date before the water and menus arrives.
Living second is not just loving, serving and obeying Jesus, it is loving, serving and honoring one another.
Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. (Philippians 2:3-4 NET).
We are all sons and daughters of God. None of us has seniority over the other. We are all called to serve, not to be served. We are called to bring each other together in love, humility and forgiveness. If we cause people to leave or to wish we would leave, what good have we accomplished? What recognition do we deserve?
May we seek to unify the Body of Christ by thinking of one other, thinking of the whole, as more important than what we desire. To quote a famous Star Trek line: “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.” We need to look in the mirror and say to ourselves, “I am not as important as everyone else.”
Life together may not always be peaceful. After all, where people are involved, things get messy; and the church is full of people. But we cannot run out on each other just because it is the easy way. And if we are causing people to run, we have a big problem. The life God has made us for, that we begin to experience when we become His and seek Him first, is life together.
Live Second:365 Ways to Make Jesus First is a devotional companion to the book, I am Second, a compilation of stories of real lives changed when they made themselves second to Jesus. You can find out more about the I am Second movement at www.iamsecond.com, including film stories of changed lives and resources for living second. You can also find both books at your favorite book retailer.