the Main Thing (a PINK Tuesday post)

Some of you know that the closest thing I’ve had to a career was the seven years that I spent working for the YMCA in Wichita, Kansas. One of the things that the Y did very well was training, and I completed a battery of core classes that were taught nationwide to young Y professionals, beginning with a class called “Principles & Practices.” This class was more like a week-long retreat where we soaked up everything we could about the background and basics of the YMCA movement.

One thing stands out to me about that week. One of our leaders – a big, smiling, baritone, southern black man – taught us this saying as he stressed the importance of the YMCA mission statement. He said:

“The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!”

And the “Main Thing” for the YMCA is its mission, which (at the time) was to:

“Put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.”

This mission sets the Y apart from other health clubs and social agencies, serving as a means of focus for those who represent the Y in their communities.

OUR mission, as Christians, is supposed to do that, too.

Set us apart! Define us! Make us recognizable in our communities and to the world! But when it comes to deciding what our focused mission is, well – the jury’s still out in Christendom…

Because for some, the mission is to:

  • See to it that everyone lives in cookie-cutter likeness to an image of the “perfect Christian” (whatever THAT is)
  • Win souls for Jesus until the convert quota is reached and we can all get to heaven
  • Seek out and point (or wag) the finger at sin, because somehow by accusing others, they will want to JOIN USJOIN our CHURCHES?!

Jesus, however, has CLEARLY STATED the mission of His people. The MAIN THING for us, as followers of Jesus, is to LOVE!

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!

Don’t let its simplicity deceive you – because challenges ABOUND. The enemies of God appear most often as temptations, and on this PINK Tuesday we are going to shine some light into these dark places in order to keep our focus on the Main Thing!

Even though you know it in your head – and you may feel it in your heart – that the Main Thing is LOVE, you will be tempted to make it all about the RULES…

Religion, after all, is often all about the RULES. When you join a church, there’s probably at least some discussion about the rules that members should follow. Even the Bible itself is often interpreted as a book of rules (think: The 10 Commandments).

This focus on rules shouldn’t surprise us, though, because the more sidetracked God’s enemy can keep us in the “rule-keeping business” of church, the less likely it is that we are actually going to DO ANYTHING that matters to God or that might further His Kingdom in this world.

We will find ourselves asking, as one of Jesus’ listeners once did:

Which rule is the most important one?

And His answer, well, it should come as no surprise to us today (found in Matthew 22:36-40).

Jesus Himself says LOVE COMES FIRST.

And WE say:

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!

You will be tempted to think that life in Christ is a CHOICE that YOU make, and you might use this to “choose” to walk away from Him in the future. This is where our sinful nature becomes an enemy of God, by attributing authority to ourselves that rightfully belongs only to Him.

Jesus Himself says in John 15:16 that “You did not choose me but I chose you.”

And scripture reminds us that we are not our own, but were bought at a price.

The cross is a SIGN of the price God has paid for you. He didn’t have to do it, but He LOVED YOU TOO MUCH NOT TO.

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!

You will be tempted to assume that God’s presence is predictable and that the places and people you will find Him in will fit into some kind of churchy-Christian “mold”…

After all, Peter was! Peter was convinced that the ministry of Jesus was ONLY for the Jews, so when God called him to bring the Good News to a family of non-Jews, he was skeptical. But Peter did what God prompted him to do and told them about salvation through Jesus. The rest of the story is found in Acts chapter 10, where Peter and his companions were ASTOUNDED that the Holy Spirit was being poured out on these Gentiles! Peter didn’t let his prejudice and limited understanding keep God from doing His work in whomever He chose.

Because the Spirit of God, scripture tells us, goes wherever He wants to go. And I have come to believe that where you FIND LOVE, you FIND GOD.

After all,

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!

You will be tempted to believe the world when it tells you that your faith in God is trivial, unimportant, unnecessary, irrelevant… okay on Sunday mornings but not worth much when Monday rolls around…

The world is at odds with God’s purposes and plan. Scripture says that the wisdom of God is foolishness to the world. What the world would really like to see us do is compartmentalize our faith – chop it up into bite-sized chunks that are more palatable and easier to chew.

But we don’t have to bow down to this world! In fact, 1 John 5:4-5 says that: “whatever is born of God conquers the world. And this is the victory that conquers the world, our faith. Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”

And what better way to demonstrate that we believe in Jesus, the Son of God, than to stand firm in our belief that:

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!

You will be tempted to see yourself as a worker in the vineyard – making it all about the work

This is where the enemy strikes many Christians – when our “Christian Duty” becomes the “Main Thing.” But Jesus Himself says: “I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends.” John 15:15

And you can’t be friends without LOVE.

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!

Finally, you will be tempted to buy the lie that no one loves you – you will go through times in life where you are lonely, unattached, even betrayed by those who are close to you… 

And in these times, may you look at the cross and remember these words of Jesus: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Jesus didn’t just say the words… He LIVED THEM.

FOR YOU.

And it was His great love for you that led Him to His death, so that in His resurrection we might love one another as Jesus Himself has loved us!

Because…

The Main Thing is to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing!
And the Main Thing is LOVE!    

My beautiful sisters, don’t just say the words.

LIVE THEM.

Love conquers Darkness

Image by Lel4nd via Flickr

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