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Establishing Priorities

posted Oct 17, 2017, 11:00 AM by First Baptist

Since last month’s Vision Week and the start of the 9Marks sermon series, several have asked a form of the following question:


The 9Marks grid seems to imply that a believer’s connection with the church is more important or a higher priority than his or her connection with their family (or the world). Is this right?


In response, it wasn’t the intent of the Vision Team to suggest or establish a hierarchy of importance or priority. The order of connections (top, middle, bottom) is immaterial and can be re-formulated however one wishes.


While we as believers may think or act in terms of a hierarchy (what is 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th in our lives), Scripture takes a different approach.


Most notably, in Matthew 22:34-40, Jesus is asked to explain the greatest commandment in the Mosaic law. He relied:


“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”


According to Jesus, then, there are only two priorities: loving God and loving people. Both are required; we don’t pick-and-choose between them. For example, we don’t say: “Today I’ll love God and tomorrow I’ll love people.” Instead, we’re responsible to do both – all the time!


Who’s our “neighbor”? In other words, who are the people Jesus tells us to love?


Included is our family, of course. Also included are fellow believers, who are to be the special objects of our good works (see Galatians 6:10). Beyond this, our neighbors include the people we work with, the family next door, as well as the children many of us packed meals for over the weekend.


How each of us fulfills the command to love God & people will vary according to season and circumstance. We shouldn’t insist on uniformity in this regard, nor should we establish a rigid hierarchy. That’s human invention, not a biblical one.


In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), the priest and Levite each had a hierarchy or list of priorities, which they used to justify not loving the poor man lying in the street. In that moment of walking along the road, their priority was the injured man and, in failing to love him, they utterly failed to obey God’s law.


Pastor Dan