Are your priorities straight? An article by B. Clayton Bell in Preaching magazine several years ago told of a couple in Atlanta who read that ‘My Fair Lady’ was still playing on Broadway in New York City. They wanted to go so badly, so they bought their tickets months ahead of time and planned their vacation.
The long-awaited day came and they flew to New York City. They presented their tickets, walked in, and sat down in wonderful seats, seven rows from the front, near the orchestra.
To the man’s amazement, the entire place filled up except the seat right next to him. He was curious about that. At intermission, he leaned over in conversation with the lady in the second seat away from him and commented how they had to wait so many months to get tickets to a performance. When there was such a demand for seats, why would someone not come? Did she have any idea? She said, “Yes, as a matter of fact, these two seats are mine. This one and that one.” She explained further, “You see, that seat belonged to my husband, and he died.” The man said, “I’m…I’m terribly sorry. But couldn’t you have invited a friend to come with you?” Her answer was classic. She said, “No, they are all at the funeral right now.”
Are your priorities straight? The heading for the section of Luke 9:57-62 is “The Cost of Following Jesus.” We are given the accounts of three men who told Jesus they wanted to follow Him. The first was not willing when he learned there were no plans made, no accommodations…life would not be easy. The second wanted to follow, but he determined to stay with his father while he was still alive… then he would follow Jesus. The third man wanted to first go and say goodbye to his family. These men, even though they said they wanted to follow Jesus, were what could be referred to as a halfway, halfhearted follower of Jesus. They wanted to be a follower, but were not willing to make any sacrifices. Other things were more important to them.
Are other things more important to you? Do you allow other things to have priority in your life? Things that take you away from Sunday worship, Bible study or quiet time with our Lord? Would you be classified as a halfway, halfhearted follower of Jesus?
May this New Year be a year you will be able to say, “Lord, Jesus, You are the priority in my life. I want to follow You. No buts.”
The Rev. Paul Johnson is pastor of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. Sermon notes is a column by local religious leaders.