Thursday, 26 September 2013

Single-minded on God

The following is a short talk I gave at our midweek Holy Communion service. It is based on the Church in Wales Trinity 16 readings: Jeremiah 9:23-24; 1 John 2:13-17; Psalm 7:1-6 and Matthew 6:24-end:

I think one of the greatest longings of the human heart is to find peace and contentment in life. The Bible tells us that both of these are to be found in God himself. But how?

The Danish Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once wrote that “purity of heart is to will one thing.” This is based on the Bible’s teaching that we must learn to centre our lives and maintain our faith and focus on God, through Jesus, above and before all.

For example in Luke’s Gospel Chapter 10 we find Martha struggling and distracted as she tries to do too many things at once in order to prepare a meal for Jesus and her other guests. But Jesus admonishes her and says “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset by many things, but only one thing is needed.” And pointing to her sister Mary who is sitting at his feet, mind and attention fixed on him, he says: “Mary has chosen what is better and it not be taken away from her.”

Our Gospel reading this morning follows a similar them. Why are you worried and anxious about things—food, drink, your body, your clothes. Trust God and focus on this one thing. “Seek first (God’s) kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be your as well.”

In other words there is a divine order, a prioritizing, which if kept to, will give us a peace and contentment which puts everything in its proper place and perspective. At the top or the centre is God. We are to love him with all our heart, mind, etc… In other words he is the one we must put first before all others. Jesus puts it another way. You cannot serve or be equally devoted to two masters. You have to choose one.

Jeremiah too is saying the same thing. If you are going to glory in anything. If you are going to make one thing your sense of highest achievement in life, don’t let it be wisdom, or power, or riches, let it be this:
“Understand and know me..”

We are much too distracted and therefore fragmented, by many things. We become anxious and depressed because our focus and our priorities and many and various. Jesus and the saints teach us that we must discover again that God has created us to live life from the centre, not from the circumference, where the God of love and peace is to be found, encountered, known and loved. Purity of heart therefore is to will this one thing before and above all else.

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