The Tyranny of the Present

Friends, to whom do we belong? We have so many things pulling at us. We have so many things demanding our attention, demanding our time, demanding our allegiance. Appointments, schedules, sports, recreation, work, family, the church – so many things that are just so insistent about wanting a piece of us. And if we are honest, some of those things demand more than our time. They demand a place of ultimate importance in our lives. They seek to become the thing around which everything that we do orbits.

In two weeks is the opening Sunday of the NFL season. I have friends for whom that means September 8th is the beginning of their 5-month absence from church. The game may start at 1:00, or maybe even 4:00, but the tailgate begins much, much earlier. They can’t miss something as special as the tailgate, for something as common as worship. I have friends who spend most of their winters on the ski slopes. They will pick church back up as soon as the ski lifts close. I could go on, but I think you get the point.

We have so many things wanting us, demanding our attention. I don’t have a coin to show. But if I could, I would hand each of you a mirror and ask you to look into it. What would you see? A face, a person, created in the image of God. Each of us carry a spark of the divine. You would see a person redeemed by God, at great expense. A person who’s very being reflects the image of God. You, I, all of us like the coin in our story, we reflect the image of God. Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; but give to God the things that belong to God. Friends, that you and that’s me.  

It is God who claims us, who made us in his image. We do not belong to anything or anyone else. Nothing else can demand our ultimate allegiance. Nothing else can claim to be sovereign in our lives. Even if we allow it. Maybe, especially if we allow it. Those allowed things are pretenders trying to sit on the throne of our lives.

We are so often willing victims of the moment. We are so often terrorized by those things, those places, those commitments, those people, that demand to be at the center of our worlds. They make the claim, they make the demand, they offer eternal significance, but they can never deliver. We’ve been sold fool’s gold and too often we don’t realize it until we see it in the rear-view mirror of our lives.

Friends, we live in a busy world. We are people of means, people of substance, we have lots of choices. We have lots of squeaky things demanding our attention. I don’t want you to feel guilty over their presence, but I am asking you to take responsibility for their prioritization. What is REALLY most important? What is REALLY worth your undivided attention? What is REALLY worth scheduling your life around? Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.