Friends, tell me, what’s important to God? Come on. I know someone here has an opinion about what’s important to God. In fact I’d wager that all of us have our very own thoughts about this. And we’re probably pretty certain that what we believe is the way it is or at least the way it should be. Am I right?
I think it would be very helpful for us to know what’s important to God. Because whatever’s important to God should be what’s important to us, right? So where do you go to find out what that is?
Maybe you are one of those who are blessed to hear God speak to you. Now I’m referring to those who actually hear God’s voice in their ear or maybe in their mind. Whatever it is they hear God speaking and they know first hand what’s important to Him. But what about those who haven’t been blessed with this gift? How do they find out what’s important to God?
I’ll tell you how I find out what’s important to God. The first place I go, the place I believe has the most authority, is the Bible. Reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating God’s Word for us is how I believe we can discover what’s important to God.
The Word read this morning is God speaking to us. He shared with us this morning what was important to Him. What did you hear Him saying to you? I think it’s not the same for everyone. Why do I think that?
Well, it’s this way. Men, you know how your wives are always telling you something, something they would like you to do or some bit of information they want you to retain in your memory banks. You know how it is that later they ask you something about what they said or they remind us to not forget to do this chore and darned if we didn’t hear and interpret what they told us differently from what their original intention was. You see, in case you haven’t heard this before, men and women are different, our minds take in information and process it in different ways and therefore what is said and heard is not always the same. And to make it even more difficult, two or three men could have heard the same directive and each heard something different.
I believe it’s the same way when we hear God’s word read. Men and women hear it differently. God speaks to us differently. And I guess he would understand since he created us, each of us, just the way we are. Since we’re all different and in different stages or places in our walk with the Lord then what’s important to God for us may be different for each of us.
But what does his word speak to us today? What’s he saying to us that’s important to Him as our Creator? Which reading should we start with?
Let’s begin with James’ epistle. What’s important to God here? James, I believe wants us to know that we can’t just listen to what God speaks to us and then not act on what we hear. We shouldn’t just let God’s message for us go in one ear and out the other. We are mandated to Act on the word we hear from God. But what’s important to God from the epistle of James?
What’s important is “reaching out to the homeless and the loveless in their plights, and guarding against corruption from this godless world.” Friends, this is what’s important to God. Is it important to you?
We must ask ourselves, “Are we living out God’s word today?” If we aren’t, why aren’t we? Is what’s important to us what’s important to God, that’s the question?
We all know that we should try to live as Jesus lived. Jesus is the model we should try to emulate. So what’s important to God in the gospel lesson from Mark?
Jesus was saying, “It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”
I hear Jesus telling us we need to look at our church rules, the written and the unwritten. What’s important to God? Traditions that enhance our worship and that enable worshippers to be closer to God are not bad but traditionalisms that keep people from entering the church to worship and pray to God for forgiveness because they aren’t clean or like us is wrong.
It’s not what we look like or how we dress or what kind of work we do that’s important to God. It’s the condition of our heart that’s important to Him. It’s not what’s on the outside but what comes from our hearts.
Friends, what’s important to God? I go back to how Jesus answered the question about what the greatest commandment was. Love God with your whole being and love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. Care what God wants and desires and care for our neighbors as we would like to be cared for. Take care of the homeless and the loveless that’s what’s important to God.
Friends, it doesn’t get any clearer than that. Let those with ears to hear, listen. Thanks be to God for his grace and love. Friends, God loves you and so do I. Amen.