In the famous Abbott & Costello routine, there is a great confusion over the position of different players due to their conveniently unusual names. “Yes” doesn’t seem to be a sensible answer to the question “Who is on first base?” Unfortunately, many Christians struggle just as much to show who is in first place in their lives. Some will say, “I’m a Christian,” but their commitment level to Christ is very low. They go to church on Sunday morning, but not any other time of the week. If something else conflicts with church, that other opportunity takes priority. Their language doesn’t reflect a life filled with the Spirit. Their actions are hardly distinguishable from someone who doesn’t claim to be a Christian. If you asked them, “Who is in first place in your life?” they would answer “God is,” but their lives leave as much confusion over the accuracy of that statement as Abbott and Costello discussing baseball.
In 2 Chronicles 20, King Hezekiah is facing a dire situation from an earthly perspective. The Assyrian army was world famous for their ruthless attacks (even documented in historical secular sources). There’s a saying I grew up hearing: “Me plus Jesus is always a majority.” The idea of that is that I can stand alone boldly because Christ is on my side. We see that idea communicated in verses 7-8. When Sennacherib, king of Assyria comes, he challenges the people of Judah by challenging the methods of Hezekiah’s leadership. Ironically, the very things Sennacherib was challenging are indicative of why God blessed Judah in this encounter! Look at how Sennacherib attacks Hezekiah’s character for his willingness to follow God exclusively: “Hath not the same Hezekiah taken away his high places and his altars, and commanded Judah and Jerusalem, saying, Ye shall worship before one altar, and burn incense upon it?” Don’t you know who I am? He asks. Indeed, they knew the Assyrians, but they also put God in first place, and God richly blessed. Unfortunately, as with most parts of Israel’s history, this was not a long-lived commitment.
Revelation 18 and Zechariah point us to the consequences of not prioritizing God. In fact, any time, we don’t put God first, we are choosing idolatry. Idolatry isn’t a passive sin that can just sit stagnant. The longer we allow idolatry to dwell in our hearts, the further it carries us away from God. Think of it like an escalator. If you are climbing up a “down’ escalator, any time you stop climbing, you drift further away from the top. There comes a point where you are as far away from the top as you can get. That doesn’t mean that you can’t begin climbing again, but it means that you have that much further to go to reach the top and the energy you had already expended has little to no bearing on your new ascent.
John 17 though gives us the perfect example of putting God first in our lives. If anyone in history had any credibility in trying to do things on his own, it would have been Christ. He was and is perfect. Yet even Christ expressed His desire to obey and glorify the Father. Even in those things which He was making requests, He emphasizes the desire for the glory of God. If Christ, the perfect sinless one sought God as the first priority, how much more should we as finite and sinful beings desire that same priority. It is imperative that God be first in our lives with no confusion. When we evaluate our own lives, we should remove anything that causes doubt over whether or not He has first place. When others look at our lives, there should be no confusion over “Who’s [in] first?”
Take the next couple of days to evaluate how you will demonstrate that God is the number one priority in your life in the coming year. Don’t wait until Wednesday to start making changes. Begin making those changes today so that in 2020, you can say, “God’s in First!”