I've had a "what if" wandering about my brain this week.
Sometimes I dismiss them quickly, because most "what ifs" take the form of worries, which can be damaging to my attitude.
This one, however, I've toyed with for a while.
It's shaped itself in the form of these "what if" questions:
"What if the Apostle Paul suddenly vaporized on earth today? What would he have to say to the church? What letters might he write, to leave with, say, the church in Pagosa Springs, or the church in ________________ (your pick)?"
Since my last few studies have been through many of Paul's Epistles, the questions arose not at all randomly.
Add to that news reports that leave me shaking my head, and responses I've read recently to different Jesus-following-influencers, and I've been pondering what a Pauline-like-response might look like.
(I won't give examples as I'm sure you have plenty of your own, and this isn't about debating hot topics or controversial concerns.)
After plenty of consideration and going back through some of Paul's letters to the churches in the first century, I've concluded with a sufficient answer to satisfy my wandering mind.
What would Paul say to the church today?
How would Paul respond?
EXACTLY (!) as he did all those years ago.
Really, there is nothing new under the sun.
While names of disruptors have changed, and issues have materialized that might cause Paul to raise his eyebrows, I don't think he'd be too shocked.
(So, neither should I.)
After all, he warned us about a lot of things:
When Paul wrote his letters, he clarified and presented for all believers THE bottom line:
- Keep the main thing the main thing.
- Guard the gospel.
- Treasure THE TRUTH OF GOD.
- Know that issues will arise, and people will love evil and hate good, but YOU, YOU LOOK TO YOUR OWN HEART and make sure you are prioritizing first things first.
- Above all, love one another (without hypocrisy)...for it is through LoVe that all men will know we are DISCIPLES OF JESUS.
- As much as it depends on you pursue peace with all men.
In the midst of all my pondering, a song that dropped about 9 months ago, played on Sirius XM Radio as I ran errands in town.
When I pulled into the grocery store parking lot, I looked up the lyrics.
I thought to myself, if the Apostle Paul spoke in stadiums to large audiences today, he'd make certain this song opened the conference.
Yes, this is a short blog.
With the Fourth of July around the corner, we didn't need a long one...
So, you have plenty of extra time to take a listen to this song (all of it....maybe a couple of times).
I'l print the lyrics.
Here is the link: First Things First, by the group, Consumed By Fire.
All the things that I have held dear
The vanities that whispered in my ear
What would I do if they all disappeared?
Riches and fame, and all that they could buy
I've come to find they never satisfy
What would I gain if my soul's the price?
I don't wanna love what the world loves
I don't wanna chase what the world does
I only want You; I only want You...
First things first, I seek Your will
Not my own, surrender all my wants to You
Keep the first thing first
To live YOUR truth, walk Your ways
Set my eyes, Lord, I fix my face on You
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first
I give it all, my life an offering
My heart is Yours so have Your way in me
Your Kingdom's all I wanna seek
Could you sing this song and mean those words?
Or, would you sing those words, and by saying them, think you mean them?
There's a big difference.
When we mean something, really desire it, we make course corrections.
We don't need a visit from the Apostle Paul, or even a letter from him to the Church in America.
For now, allow these lyrics to become a heart-felt-prayer, and a Paul-like-life-changing-charge, to your soul...
And...keep first things first.