Sort Out Your Priorities!

Christ is risen!

My mother had a famous saying to me and my brother when we were little. It usually came out when we didn’t want to do something like clean our rooms or do other chores. Usually, it was because I either wanted to keep playing or watch TV. But then, the depth charge comment would appear! “You can do what you want to do WHEN you do what you have to do!” Ouch. OK, that sets the tone. Time to get going!

It turns out living this out in real life is tough. And it’s tough because your priorities reveal your character. What you truly value is easily discoverable by simply watching what you invest your time, talents, and treasures in. That’s why learning how to set your priorities is one of the most important features of a mature person. Set your priorities well, and your life moves along a healthy trajectory. But, setting your priorities to feed your desires usually ends up costing you in so many ways if you’re like me. Of course, the first question has to be “How do we set our priorities well?” And that, dear one, is where your Faith comes in. We Orthodox on Purpose people HAVE to insist that our Orthodox Faith is the foundational way we set our priorities in life!

Look at our lesson today in Luke 6:12-19:

At that time, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray; and all night he continued in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles; Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaios, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. And he came down with them and stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people from all Judea and Jerusalem and the seacoast of Tyre and Sidon, who came to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those who were troubled with unclean spirits were cured. And all the crowd sought to touch him, for power came forth from him and healed them all.

The Lord is choosing the men who would form the nucleus of the leadership for the Church. Just as Moses went up to the mountain to receive the Law, just as Israel had 12 patriarchs who formed the nation, so the Lord goes up to the mountain to prepare to choose 12 Apostles who will be His chosen leaders to move from an ethnic view of the people of God to the “spiritual Israel” that will continue His work in the earth after His resurrection and Ascension. Christ is instituting His “new nation” formed to reach the world. And we see this clearly as He named these 12 “Apostles” which means “sent ones.” Not “sit ones” or “think ones” or even “good ones” but men who are sent on a mission to accomplish a task! Ain’t a whole lot of sitting around going on here!

And today is the Feast day of St. Simon the Zealot. Before his conversion, he was a radical Jew fighting to liberate his homeland of the occupying forces of the Romans. Now, he is an Apostle that gives his life in service to Jesus Christ. Some have suggested it was Simon’s wedding that the Lord attended in Canaan and where He did His first miracle with water into wine. Simon’s life was radically reoriented in his encounter and relationship with Jesus. His priorities were totally transformed. Now, instead of liberating by violence a political ideology, he preaches a message of spiritual liberty for everyone, even the Romans he once hated!

Today, what do your priorities say about you? Are you aware of your own purpose and “mission” as a follower of Jesus Christ? Where does that mission fall in your list of priorities? I pray you can stop, even for a moment, and do an inventory of your priorities and seek out just where your faith falls in that list. Perhaps it’s time for your faith to move up a few spots! Perhaps it’s time to be Orthodox on Purpose!

P.S. Dear Lord, I confess I spend most of my life inattentive to my priorities. I do know I should allow Your Resurrected Life to inform and shape my priorities. I do know that the wisdom preserved in the Church is all about informing and forming my priorities, but, still, I catch myself neglecting this wisdom for what is right in front of me or for my own immediate comfort of convenience. And this inner blindness in my life frustrates me. Please have mercy on me and forgive me for being neglectful in living purposefully instead of on automatic pilot all too often. By the prayers of the saints and the blessed Theotokos save me! Amen.

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