What is the most important issue in your life right now? Your exams, your job, your upcoming wedding, your children,your girlfriend, your cancer?Jesus, in Mark 2, speaks to what’s really important.
Friends bring a paralysed man to Jesus, who by this stage is a semi-famous miracle worker.The paralysed man is lowered to Jesus through a desperately-made opening in the flat-roofed house.Jesus sees this physically handicapped man and says to him, quite surprisingly, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Why is Jesus so insensitive and tactless?Surely he realised the desperate man needed healing.The key is to see that Jesus knew that the paralysed man’s physical handicap wasn’t his biggest, deepest problem.Jesus knew that the man had a far greater issue.Jesus knew he was a sinner estranged from his Creator and because the man was estranged from God he would not only suffer in this world, but he would also suffer in the world to come, for all eternity, in hell. Jesus knew what his big issue was, and so said, “Son, our sins are forgiven”.Jesus extended to the spiritually paralysed man forgiveness and new life for all eternity. His new life would start that very day and have no end.
What is the biggest issue you’re facing right now?What’s causing you the most joy or the most pain?Remember that as a Christian, Jesus has dealt with your biggest problem and that you now belong to him.He cares and control.He empowers and enables.If you are not a Christian yet, make sure that deal with the biggest issue before you get caught up in the others.
Oh yes, just to prove that he does care about the other issues too, Jesus tells the paralysed man to stand up and walk home.
I think the programme that I dislike most on TV is Top Billing. Top Billing idolizes luxury, extravagance, opulence and excess. So we strive for bigger mansions, more exclusive interior designers, softer carpets and heated towel railings. Before you ask (I know you will): I live in a comfortable house worth over a million rand and have just painted half of it inside so it looks nice.
What I am blogging for is perspective. Sure God gives us every good thing to enjoy and as Christians do deny or reject God’s good gifts would be dumb. But somehow I think that we as Christians have got our priorities somewhat lopsided.
God, through the prophet Haggai in the Old Testament, lashed out at his people for decorating their own home while the temple (God’s symbolic home) in Jerusalem was lying in ruins. God’s people had returned from 70 years in exile and their houses were in a mess and no doubt needed some attention. Yet, by the time of Haggai’s prophecy, God’s people had been back 19 years from exile and the temple remained unbuilt.
The excuse was that the timing was not quite right for the rebuilding (Haggai 1:2). Interestingly, the people did have time to decorate and beautify their own homes (1:4). The reason for this, according to God, was that the people did not fear or revere the LORD Almighty (1:12), nor did they live for his pleasure or honour (1:8). In other words, God’s people didn’t think much of God and were living for their own entertainment and comfort. As a result, their experienced lack of pleasing and judgment. Four times in the book of Haggai God says to his people, “What’s up with this, consider what you do!” God called for his people to make temple building their priority.
I bet that if you had to ask one of Haggai’s audience where God was on their priority list, they would have said that of course in first place. But actions speak louder than words.
The temple, which symbolised God’s presence, in a picture of Jesus, who is God’s presence with us. So now, if we want to worship and meet with God we don’t get on a plane to Jerusalem, but bow down to Jesus. Getting our priorities straight means prioritising our relationship with Jesus and prioritizing Jesus’ work. Too many of us spend too much of our time, talents and treasure on our own entertainment, comfort and home decoration, than on Jesus and his work (i.e. giving generously to gospel ministry, hospitality, serving the local church, encouraging others etc).