One of the most charming love stories in recent history was that of former United States President, Harry Truman, and his wife of 53 years, Bess. Having met in Independence, Missouri, in 1890, the love story began to unfold. Harry wrote 1,300 letters to his beloved wife during the war, his career and tenure of presidency. Harry had a lifelong rule: write to Bess every day they were apart.
Diplomatic and historical scholars examining these letters hoped to shed some light on historical events of the time. However, what is more fascinating and striking is Harry’s simple desire to continually write to his wife amidst dealing and negotiating with the world’s most powerful leaders. Priority. Harry desired Bess to know that she always came first, no matter what business and political decision-making he was in the process of. Harry prioritised his beloved wife.
Just as Harry wanted to demonstrate that Bess came first, in Luke 2:41-52, Luke wants the Christian to see what comes first in their life. What is the priority for the Christian? Who or what is the primary object of our affection and devotion? I wonder, is God our priority?
After Jesus parents have been on a wild search for their only child, they find Jesus sitting in the temple. Residing there, Jesus claims “why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49). Instead of an apology, which we expect following his parents’ stressful and anxious search (2:48), Jesus insists they should have known where he was. In a moment of tension between parents and son – Jesus claims a priority to God above all. Jesus is claiming it is necessary he be about the Father’s business first and foremost. As John Calvin highlighted:
The responsibility that Jesus owes to his Father in heaven ought to be immeasurably preferred to all other human responsibilities.
This does not mean we become lazy and laid-back to the responsibilities of life. It means in view of everything we do, God must be first priority. Preferring Him and His business to everything else.
For the Christian, God is our priority now on earth. Not soon, not when you think you have sorted everything out, not when you clean up your act or tick off that bucket list! God as priority tops every list.
However, it can be difficult. We live in a ‘revolving around’ generation. There is so much information coming our way: notifications, alarms, buzzers, texts, emails, news alerts, an endless list. We are stressed and anxious; exhausted with the toil of life. What often happens is that our world revolves around ourselves. Revolving around our own heads and hearts we try to press through life.
Yet, Jesus, in the very first recorded words we have from him, indicates everything revolves around God. The priority for Jesus is God. With all the noise around us, why do we not take the time to sit with our Father like Jesus?
Yes, we will fail. But, we stand in great recognition of the grace God has lavished on us through His Son. Put aside the weights and burdens of this world, deny yourself, take up your cross and follow Christ. It is not an easy call; trials and tribulations will come. But even when we fall in our sin, Jesus upholds us. The mistakes and failings of our lives can be taken to the cross and forgiven. Past, present and future.
With the indwelling Spirit, pray God would point us towards Him first that we may grow to be more like Christ. And to recognise He is the centre of it all. The first words of Jesus are some of the simplest, but they capture the essence of Christian living. It is not about us; it is about submitting gladly and obeying joyfully the Father first because of His great love for undeserving sinners.
Riches I heed not nor man’s empty praise; Thine my inheritance now and always. Thou and thou only, first in my heart. High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.