Hitting the snooze while the “ooga chaka” opening of Blue Swede’s ‘Hooked on a Feeling” shouts at me from my phone. That’s the first thing I do in the morning. I didn’t choose that song as my alarm because it’s a particular favorite (I actually prefer B. J. Thomas’ version), but rather because it has the most grating opening of any song in my phone’s music library. I don’t need something that soothes we to wake me up from the deep slumber that claims me each night. I need something jarring. Something abrasive. Something uncomfortable. Otherwise, I’ll just happily let the music play and continue on with my dreaming.
We all have our “first things” we do each day. They are part of our morning routine that generally includes various manifestations of hygiene care and caffeine intake. Whatever forms they may take, we cannot get to the rest of our day without them.
I’ve been preaching through a series this month called “First Things”. Each message has dealt with areas within the life of a follower of Christ that must be prioritized in order to effectively and obediently walk in the way He has called us to. Everyone wants to be a mature believer right out of the conversion gate, but the fact of the matter is that there is no shortcut to growth in the life of the Christ follower. None of us (hopefully) would think of leaving the house without brushing our teeth, fixing our appearance somewhat, and putting on appropriate clothing before going to engage people in meaningful conversation (I’m certain that people who wear pajamas in public have a perfectly valid reason for doing so). Likewise, if we are not properly grounded and prepared in our own walk with Christ, how can we consider ourselves ready to help disciple others?
Is this jarring and uncomfortable? Sometimes more than others, yes. There are times we forget to brush our teeth. (Yes, you’ve done it, too. That’s why you keep chewing gum in your car.) Or forgot to put on anti-perspirant. Or mismatch your shoes because you put them on in the dark. These uncomfortable moments serve as landmarks that help to remind us of what we need to focus on first so that the things that follow go smoothly.
Paul wrote to the younger Timothy that he was to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, NASB). The idea here is that there is to be earnest, diligent study of the Scriptures to ensure a right walk for both the one studying and the one who is discipled. There are no Cliff’s Notes to Christian maturity (Do they even still make those? I think I just dated myself). No one can do it for us. We must take the time required to know the Truth. Do we mess up? Of course, but these mistakes must serve as reminders of the first things, the priorities that ensure everything that follows is in its proper place.
Who is Christ? What has He instructed me to do? What is the cost of obedience? What am I willing to give up for Him? These are the “First Things” I’m preaching on this month. You can check them out online at http://www.rbcgreer.com. If you’re in the area, we’d love for you to come check us out in person.