Absorbed with God
Paul was concerned with what holds our highest attention: earthly concerns, or God. Essentially, he asks, “Are you consumed with things of this world: your marriages, your emotions, your possessions? Are you preoccupied with today? Or are you captivated with God and the new world that God promises?”
These questions are still relevant. What preoccupies your time, your thoughts, and your desires? Are you immersed in concerns that draw your attention to what the world offers—your own happiness and possessions? Or are you absorbed with God and serving God?
As a hospice chaplain I met a woman whom I’ll call Florence. Florence was dying of cancer. We talked weekly for many months, and I learned much from her. Florence taught me that choosing God over temporal preoccupations is difficult because we have love and attachments. She also taught me that it is possible and necessary to make that choice. We talked often about her sorrow at the thought of leaving her beloved husband, children, and granddaughter, and how she chose God even while knowing the pull of earthly loves. Until her final breath, she loved her family; but she chose God as her ultimate preoccupation.
Paul acknowledges our temporal concerns and loves but reminds us of a higher, more important preoccupation. Paul challenges us to look to God as our first and highest loyalty. Is that easy? No, it’s usually difficult. With God’s loving presence and the witness of people like Florence, though, it is possible.
O God, whose love constantly seeks me and whose care never falters, show me the way to give to you my utmost loyalty and to be preoccupied only with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Things are not always as they seem. To Jonah, the people of Nineveh seem beyond hope, so he runs away rather than going to preach to them. But God has other plans. To Jonah’s surprise, the Ninevites turn to God. In our eyes, social standing and wealth may seem to divide people into different classes, but the psalmist declares that in God’s economy all are equal. Paul echoes the theme of the temporary nature of all things in this life; they should not be our source of security. Jesus opens his ministry in Mark by proclaiming that God is breaking into history to overthrow what has been accepted as the way things are. Sometimes God’s perspective is not our perspective.
Read Jonah 3:1-10. Can you think of a time when you sensed God calling you to do something you didn’t want to do? How did you respond?
Read Psalm 62:5-12. How have you experienced God’s “awesome deeds” in your life? What is your response?
Read 1 Corinthians 7:29-31. What distracts you from focusing on God? How might you reorder your priorities?
Read Mark 1:14-20. What might have led Simon, Andrew, James, and John to immediately stop what they were doing and follow Jesus? Are there things that make you hesitate in following Jesus’ call to you?
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