Monday, February 8, 2016

When was the last time you chose the Church OVER something else?

The Lord asks that we love Him more than anyone or anything else. When asked if we love the Lord this way, we often stand firm in our conviction that we love the Lord and have placed Him first in all things in our life. But do we really love Him more than anything or anyone? As I have been focusing on the importance of the life of the Church in recent weeks as a means for us to grow closer to God, I wanted to take a very brief moment to ask the question...
When was the last time you chose the Church OVER something else?
We live in a world filled with distractions and competing priorities, yet each Sunday morning the Church calls us to worship. We may not hear the actual bell tower any longer but the Church calls us nonetheless. Do we answer the call, and put everything aside for a few hours to join our brothers and sisters in Communion with God? we find other things that we rationalize are important for us to accomplish Sunday morning. We can go to Church next week, we comfort ourselves. But what have we actually accomplished? We have placed something or someone above God.

You may not agree with me on this, but I can with surprising accuracy predict families that will eventually fall away from the Church by their attendance and the level to which they are committed to the Orthodox Way of Life. When our children are raised in a family that chooses a sports game, business accounting, or even just a bit of laziness over attending the Divine Liturgy on Sunday morning, we should not be surprised when our children choose to leave the Church.  When our children are raised in families which do not even attempt to maintain the fast, we should not be surprised when our children ignore the moral teachings of the Church. In fact every time our family ignores, or worse defies, the teachings and way of life of the Church, we are teaching our children that NONE of the Church is important.

If you really desire to place God first in your life, the ONLY way to put this into practice is to place the Church as your highest priority. Make a commitment that unless a life or death emergency or serious illness keeps you from Church, you and your family will be IN CHURCH, ON TIME, EVERY SUNDAY. It won’t be as easy as it sounds, since you likely have spent many years rationalizing away your absence from Church on Sunday. But when you actually begin to choose church OVER something or someone, THEN you will experience what it means to love God above all other things.

Give it a try. Starting this week, make a commitment that you will be in Church EVERY SUNDAY, ON TIME, NO MATTER WHAT, and experience the joy of a true loving relationship with Christ. Then when you are faced with choosing to be or do something else on Sunday, ask yourself, “Is this more important than God?” Your answer will always reveal what you love more.

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