A few weeks ago at work, I was listening to some messages on Youtube, and I just let it go to the next one…the next one…then I found myself listening to a Biblical teacher, Dr John Barnett, and he explained something that got my attention. He said, “I used to teach a youth group, and something that I noticed is most people think of idols as just something that we love more than Jesus. But imagine we have a shelf of a couple of levels, and you put things on it in your life that matter to you. First of all, Jesus goes right up on the top shelf. People would say, ‘See, look, I have Jesus up there and I’m quite excited about that.’ Then they put things on other shelves that are important, but life happens and then there are lots of things and some are just making their way up there with Him on the top shelf. Not intentionally to compete with Him, but because they are life. They are important to us. Car, girlfriend, bank account, phone, electronics!! It’s not that they are more important than Jesus, it’s that they become just as important.”
In life, it’s so incredibly easy to get caught up in doing things, important things, sometimes even ministry things, and missing out on the relationship we have in Christ. In such small movements, and maybe even unnoticeable priority shifts, things on our lower shelves get shifted up higher and higher until Jesus is in a crowded area with a lot of our stuff. I can assure you that it’s tough to reflect Christ in our lives when there’s so much sharing the same place as Jesus in our lives. “Who put that up there?!! Oh… me.”
Here’s an interesting way to look at the shelf explanation. I wonder what Jesus’ shelf looked like during His ministry. I’m sure God the Father was on the top shelf and second shelf were people. Us! In Matthew 26:39 “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Jesus’ highest priority was the Will of His Father and not his own. I would think that this should be our highest importance in our lives. “Jesus, Your will, not mine.”
I have noticed in my journey from where I was in life, as I walk in a relationship with Jesus, that all the things I could move from one shelf to another shelf are moving down as I listen to and follow Jesus. In other words, things in my life are not as important as I thought they were. God has been working on me in areas of priorities in finances, possessions, relationships…family. They are not drifting away; it’s just that I’m not trying to make Jesus share the importance of things. He’s at the top as our Savior should be. And maybe I need to clear my top shelf of my stuff for Him and only Him.
Jesus must increase, but I must decrease. (I think I’ve heard that before!)