Whenever I hear the word priorities, I think of Ron Weasley (in the movie version, at least) saying that Hermione, who privileges learning above all else, “needs to get her priorities sorted.” The comment is a bit subversive, it is very amusing, but I have a more serious challenge today.
American Christians: we need to get our priorities sorted.
What is more important for a Christian, to be right or to be compassionate?
What is more important for a Christian, to have personal wealth and security or to feed and house the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow?
What is more important for a Christian, to preserve Constitutional rights or to preserve those created in the image of God?
What is more important for a Christian, to seek personal safety or to seek the safety and health of others?
What is more important for a Christian, to defend democracy or to live the Gospel?
What is more important for a Christian, to uphold the laws of our society or the Law of God?
What is most important for a Christian…
Now you may be saying that these are all false dichotomies, we can have both. I am not saying we can’t. I am asking, what are our priorities? When it does come down to one or the other, as it often does, which priority will win? The priority of living the life Jesus and the Prophets called us to? Or being an American?
You may tell me that if you are not first safe yourself, you cannot help others, if you do not have some wealth yourself you cannot give to others. That seems logical and yet that is not the message of the Gospel. In fact, it is the exact opposite.
Seek first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:33)
The kingdom of God and God’s righteousness is to “care for the widow and the orphan, the stranger in your midst.” That is to care for those who are the most vulnerable in society. It should not need to be stated, but I will, “the stranger in your midst” are immigrants, people who do not have a homeland and have come into your region, your country, your town and are vulnerable and need your love and care.
The kingdom of God and God’s righteousness is to not resist the evildoer (Matt. 5:39), not to sue someone (Matt. 5:40), not to hate your enemy but to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:44). Jesus calls his people to humility, to serving others,
Our kingdom is not the United States of America. The Constitution, as good as it is, is not Holy Writ, sent from God. Christians ought not to be of this world (John 17:14), not even the USA. The “shining city” on a hill is not democracy or the United States. It is all Christians, everywhere, at all times under all regimes.
You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. …In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:14-16)
Our kingdom is the Kingdom of Heaven, it is the Kingdom of God wherein the first shall be last and the last shall be first. It is a kingdom marked by the giving of self, the loving of the unloved, and grace of God. Grace.
Where are our priorities?