Today, I want to explore three great reasons for putting Jesus first in our lives and a few suggestions on how to do just that.
Last year we moved into a small city. Even though I had been a farm girl most of my life, I thoroughly enjoy living in this new community. Just as I once enjoyed following deer trails across the open prairie, I now enjoy exploring the beautiful walking paths of my city.
On a few occasions, I became disoriented by the intersecting and winding pathways. As soon as I encountered a familiar landmark, I could regain my bearings and walk with ease. Feeling even slightly lost is an unsettling experience.
Have you gone through a “lost” experience — not knowing which direction to proceed? Maybe, we all have at sometime. Jesus is the unchanging landmark, our epicenter Who sets a sure course for our lives.
#1 The Epicenter
In fact, Jesus is the epicenter of everything. He is the core, the heart, giving purpose to all things.
“For in him we live and move and have our being . . .”
Before I encountered Jesus and experienced life with Him, my life was incredibly lost in addictions and depression. He absolutely transformed my life, broke old destructive patterns of thinking, healed my emotional wounds, and restored hope and purpose.
I’m not alone! Millions of people through the ages testify of the same life-changing dynamics that Jesus makes.
By putting Jesus first, at the core, the center of our being, we may wander on to unknown paths, but we will never be lost or alone.
#2 The Plumb Line
Carpenters use a plumb line to draw true vertical lines so what they are building is perfectly formed to square. A plumb line is a string with a weight attached to the end. As the weight dangles freely, it will settle to a true vertical position. The plumb line remains true despite the whims of the carpenter. Without a plumb line the entire project risks becoming crooked and unstable.
“This is what he showed me: The Lord was standing by a wall that had been built true to plumb, with a plumb line in his hand. And the LORD asked me, ‘What do you see, Amos?’ ‘A plumb line,’ I replied. Then the Lord said, Look I am setting a plumb line among my people Israel; I will spare them no longer.'”
The people of Israel had forsaken God and established their own twisted concept of morality and spirituality. But with Jesus as our plumb line, no attempt to justify our crooked ways will stand the test. He never changes with current whims of culture.
Jesus forms the plumb line of right and wrong, good and evil. The wise of heart will put Jesus first to establish God’s true standards in their lives. With Jesus as the plumb line, social frustrations and current opinions all come into context.
#3 The Pattern
Though Jesus came as a baby in human likeness, He established a perfect pattern of living unlike any human before Him. Jesus became the flawless model of humility, the example of self-sacrifice, and the representation of perfect love and grace.
When we put Jesus first, He becomes our focus as we seek to live in a way that reflects Him.
” . . . listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.”
The challenge and encouragement within this verse is endless. “Listen!” the writer says, “Jesus was a man!” Everything Jesus did on earth, He did as a man! He fed the hungry, ministered to the poor, welcomed little children, raised the dead, healed the sick, and set demoniacs free. And He did it all as a man — a man filled with the Holy Spirit and led by God.
Everything Jesus did as a man, He also welcomes us to do. He showed us how. He set the pattern.
As we put Jesus first, we walk in His footsteps, following His example — even into the impossible of miracles, wonders, and signs.
For far too many of us, Jesus can become an add on to other important or demanding things. Yikes! That, my friends, is a dangerous path. In the busyness of life, we can all too easily relegate Jesus to second, third, or fourth place.
As much as we love our families, Christ must be first. As much as we love and appreciate others in the Christian community, no one and nothing else should take first place. But how do we put Jesus first?
Just like in my walks, I need to be alert to my surroundings and aware of my direction, the same holds true for walking and living for Jesus. God helps us lay a firm foundation for placing Him in the preeminent position.
One of the most effective ways to put Jesus first is through beginning and ending each day with Bible reading and prayer. This helps us to focus on Him and His promises, by giving Him the first word in our hearts and minds.
Next, we can check the plumb line as we make decisions and choices. Will it align with His standards or ours? Am I living in a way that is true to Him?
And finally, which pattern of living can we learn from and grow in today? How can we live with God intention and purpose, re-presenting Him to those around us?
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
May Christ be the epicenter, the plumb line, and the pattern we follow everyday. Our lives ignite with purpose as we put Jesus first!