Following Jesus

discipleship • the inner life • prayer
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Following Jesus

Get Your Priorities in Order

February 18, 2017 by

Despite being a pacifist, it is hard not to be inspired by the US Navy Seals. I would love to be as tough, as dedicated, and as self-sacrificial as they seem to be. The big muscles would also be nice. But a few days ago I watched a video about their ethos of priorities, and it struck me as something the church should be thinking about.

Here are their priorities, in order of importance. (I can’t find a really good source for this, so if you happen to be a Seal, please correct me if I am wrong.)

  1. The Mission
  2. The Team
  3. Their Teammates
  4. Themselves

Putting the success of the mission above the safety of the team is a powerful point. For the church, it could be written:

  1. The Mission i.e. the Great Commission, loving your neighbor, being salt and light, etc.
  2. The Church
  3. Church Members
  4. Ourselves

This is how it should be, but far too often, I think we put them in this order:

  1. Our salvation – looking out for our own skin
  2. Other church members; their salvation and wellbeing
  3. The church – its unity, programs, and organization
  4. The mission of Jesus

These inverted priorities are clearly demonstrated in the Church of England’s continual internal debates about same-sex marriage, most recently surfaced at the Synod. I often hear people express the importance of “holding the communion together” and “learning to disagree well.” But isn’t this putting the church above the mission? And putting a warm fuzzy all-embracing “love” to others above both of those? And topping it all off with self-justification for our own often-Pharisaical behavior?

an outdoor gathering of some adult members of an intentional Christian community

Of course, I believe in the importance of unity and in the witness of a united church to the world. But if this means abandoning the teachings of Jesus – which include strong words about sin and church discipline but also powerful examples of repentance and renewal – then it is not worth it. Far better to have a small group of truly united believers dedicated to Jesus than a large group of half-hearted people who pretend that you can be a “church” while agreeing to disagree over fundamental points of faith.

But I don’t want to point fingers at the Church of England. Let’s look at ourselves, and where we are perhaps getting priorities wrong. Let’s get them in the right order – and then we can probably stop worrying about our own salvation altogether.

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  • Why becomes man a seal or rather a christ? This is the ground where everything is build on.

    Ulrich
  • Bernard: You say that you don't want to "point fingers"! Can't you see that you do that over and over again! And this comment: "Far better to have a small group of truly united believers dedicated to Jesus than a large group of half-hearted people who pretend that you can be a “church” while agreeing to disagree over fundamental points of faith." How high that horse is that you are riding?? How does your mission of "loving your neighbor" fit with condemning him? It's a long way down from that high horse, but I do wish you a safe landing. Life is better down low.

    Concerned