God First = Love First

There are two major themes in this week’s readings. The first theme calls us to ask the question, “Am I making God the number one priority in my life?” In the first reading (1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21) God asks the prophet Elijah to anoint a successor – Elisha – for himself. When Elijah called Elisha to serve as his apprentice or attendant, the response from Elisha was “Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.”

In the Gospel reading from Luke  (Luke 9:51-62) Jesus is also reaching out to a man and says to him, “Follow me.” The man responds to Jesus by saying, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.” 

Although the responses from Elisha and the man whom Jesus called seem fairly reasonable, especially by today’s standards, their response was not, “I will happily follow you. Here I am, Lord!”  They responded with, “I will God, but first I need to……” 

How often are you and I called by God or presented with an opportunity to be Christ to another and we think to ourselves, “That would be a great thing to do….if I had more time” or “As soon as I make a little more money or get that job or go for a run or (insert the excuse of choice).  Don’t we always seem to have really good excuses to put-off love and service in the present?

Jesus is asking us to make God first in our lives – every day.  In each conversation and in every action we can ask ourselves, “How would Jesus respond?” or “What would Jesus do in this instance?”  That’s how we make God first in our lives.

The second major theme for us this week is Love  and comes from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Galatians 5:1, 13-18).  In this letter, Paul is reminding the Galatians to focus on the Spirit of Christ within them and to not be enslaved by the flesh.  I really like the definition of flesh because in the past, I thought that Paul was talking about sexual temptations.  This definition of flesh means any form of selfishness.  L-O-V-E is the opposite of selfishness.  Flesh and selfishness are the exact opposite of God who is love.

By focusing on God’s Spirit which lives within us, we have the strength to overcome our flesh’s temptations – overconsumption of alcohol and food, lust, pride, greed, envy,  etc.

Love is the opposite of selfishness. We best express our love as Jesus did – in service to others.  “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

In summary, let’s make God first in our lives. We do this best when we’re actively serving and loving others!

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