Monday, August 29, 2016

Keeping the ‘Main Thing’ the Main Thing

Starting this weekend, millions across America
will resume a focus on their "main thing."
Well, it’s that time of year again. Football time! (I understanding that not everyone is cheering – some groan at the prospect. Sorry ‘bout that.) But if you’re a college football fan, someone who prefers the NFL, or a person who enjoys both in equal doses, it’s nearly time to get on that game face. In some cases, literally. Annual fantasy football “drafts” are under way, and the seasonal religion of football is poised to open its hallowed cathedrals to devoted congregants.

For some fans it will be a fun diversion, watching a game or two for several hours on a Saturday or Sunday, and then returning to the realities of daily life. For others (and I used to be among them), it becomes what’s most important and will remain such through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and maybe beyond New Year’s. Even during the week, they’ll be agonizing over how their teams will do the next weekend, real and fantasy.

Which raises a question that transcends the gridiron: What is most important? Or to put it another way, in your life, what is the main thing?

Recently I heard a speaker discussing this very topic. Noting how the question of “what’s most important” can elicit a wide range of responses, he wondered, “Can there be multiple ‘most importants’?”

It would seem so, based on how some people act, but by the law of superlatives – I really don’t know if there is such a law, but if there isn’t, there should be – there can only be one entity that qualifies as “most.” All the rest fall in rankings of lesser importance.

Many people have expressed it (or something similar) through the years, but the late Ted DeMoss was the first I ever heard say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The problem, he would explain, is we don’t always keep “the main thing” paramount. Even worse, we fail to identify what the main thing is, resulting in a very disjointed, conflicted life.

For some people, starting later this week, football becomes their main thing. For others, it’s work or career. The main thing can range from family to a favorite pastime to having the perfect house. It can even be training for a marathon or a triathlon, or working out to sculpt that perfect physique. The definition of “the main thing” can differ from person to person, but for those of us who follow Jesus Christ – or recognize the need for a deeper, more fruitful spiritual life – can there really be more than one main thing? Not really.

Writing to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul stated, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). He was determined not to get sidetracked by tangential matters. He resolved to keep the main thing – Jesus – the main thing, no matter what.

I like how the Amplified translation of Philippians 3:10 describes the apostle’s devotion: “(For my determined purpose is) that I may know him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding (the wonders of His Person) more strongly and more clearly….”

Without question Paul had a singular, unwavering goal: to keep Jesus Christ the main thing in his life, and to challenge others to do the same.

“Yeah,” some might argue, “but that was then. This is now.” Perhaps, but from the beginning God has sought to find single-minded people who understood He is, and always should be, the main thing. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

Because being a follower of Jesus – a Christian, if you prefer – isn’t a part-time pursuit, a spiritual activity for which we parcel out an hour or two every week, then proceed through the rest of the week as if there is no God.

As the speaker asked, can there be multiple “most importants”? Can there be more than one real “main thing”? Looking at your life, and how you pursue it from day to day, what’s your main thing?

No comments: