I invited Bas Rijksen, a friend of mine from http://www.basrijksen.com/, to share one of his articles on making God everything. He talks about why we don’t need to be treating God as a priority item on a list and instead as someone who is involved and interested in every aspect of our lives. I agree with him and would like to note, when we put God on a list then it means he is able to be brought down to a lower position, whereas when he is our life he can be glorified in everything. Here is a video lecture by him if you would rather listen than read.
A Mistake You Don’t Want to Make: Putting God First Place in Your Life
Let’s not waste time but cut to the chase: God does NOT want to be first place in your life!
Like every lie, it always sounds so deceptively correct.
After all, it sounds like it should be a “good Christian” thing to do right? If God is first place in your life then you’re doing something right – you’re putting Him above all else.
He is first, then your family, then work, then everything else – sounds correct, right? Wrong!
It puts God on a list, and that’s insulting to Him!
Well meaning people have told me: “Bas, there are many things that clamor for your attention and devotion: your job, spouse, hobby – the demands and distractions of life. You need to be careful not to let other things become more important or more of a priority than your relationship with God. Make sure you keep God first place in your life!”
At the time I thought this was wisdom speaking. Therefore, I swallowed it hook, line and sinker, not knowing I was being kidnapped by high sounding nonsense! Like every lie I’ve believed, it kept me in bondage.
What people mean by “putting God first place” is that you need to prioritize Bible reading, prayer, and other “spiritual activities” above everything else. The implication, however, is that everything else is “worldly” and therefore not as good as the “spiritual” things.
This mindset says there is a division between the sacred and the secular; a distinction is made between what is spiritual and what is worldly. According to this mindset your priority list would look like this (the line indicates the distinction):
2. Family (Secular/Worldly)
In the sacred or spiritual category are things like worship, church attendance, prayer, Bible reading, evangelism, tithing, speaking in tongues, volunteering and obedience. And what is secular or “worldly”? Everything else, which includes basically 95% of where ordinary people – like you and me – spend their lives and energy: family, friends, work, hobbies, and interests.
To put it bluntly: this distinction is unbiblical!
To make a distinction between spiritual and worldly is false and reveals a deep misunderstanding of the nature of a Christian. What makes something “spiritual” is not the nature of an activity but the nature of the person.
You are a spirit who has a soul and lives in a body. Because you are a spirit being, everything you do is “spiritual.” The who determines the do.
Since you are a spiritual being who lives in a human body everything you do is 100% spiritual and 100 % natural. There isn’t a single activity you do today that isn’t spiritual.
Every action is spiritual because you are a spiritual being.
So the next time you put your hands to work, change diapers (that’s the stage I’m in with our daughter Anouk), enjoy your hobby, sip away your favorite drink, play games – remember that all those physical activities are just as spiritual as praying, Bible reading, worship, evangelism, etc.!
“You are not a human being having a spiritual experience. You are a spiritual being having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
In other words, you are not a human being on a spiritual journey. You are a spiritual being on a human journey.
One simple truth
Now we come to the one simple truth that can radically change your life and bring freedom.
Colossians 3:3-4 gives us clarity as to why you shouldn’t put God first place in your life.
“Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life – even though invisible to spectators – is with Christ in God. He is your life” (Amp.).
Notice, it doesn’t say Christ is just in your life, but that Christ is your life. Christ defines your identity. He is the very essence of you, in you. He is the substance of everything about you.
If Christ is your life, then you can’t put Him first place – or second, or third for that matter.
He can only be one thing – your life, expressed through you each day!
So even though this advice to keep God first place in your life sounds good, it’s nothing but a lie.
Instead of legalistically trying to keep God first place in your life I invite you to come of the religious treadmill to rest in the fact that Christ is your life.
“For in Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)
New Priority List
Your “priority list” should actually look like this:
1. Christ is your life – in your family
1. Christ is your life – in your work
1. Christ is your life – in worship, prayer, Bible reading, church attendance.
1. Christ is your life – in your hobbies and interests
1. Christ is your life – in your parenting, coffee drinking, joking around and bathroom breaks…
Notice, Christ is always number 1! Why? Because He is your life! Since Christ is your life you can not put Him first place in your life. He is the substance of who you are! He is your identity.
Christ is in you, with you, joined to you, and present in all aspects of your life. He’s everything to you: “To me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Notice Paul doesn’t say that Christ is important to him. He says that “to live is Christ.” Paul is not trying to give Christ a proper place among other things. Instead, he is recognizing the fact that Christ is everything to him.
There’s no sense in comparing Jesus with other things and ranking Him as number one. He isn’t separate from all other activities; He is intimately involved in every part and moment of your life because He lives in you, as you. The question is: are you aware of His indwelling presence?
God becomes less boring and religious and things become a lot more fun when you don’t separate activities between “spiritual” and “worldly” but have a holistic view that says, “everything I do is fully spiritual and fully natural.”
My life transformed when I realized God was always with me and that I’m meant to “encounter” God in everything I do. When I believed this, I started to experience it. In everything and everywhere, I am with Jesus and am able to experience Him. When I walk, talk, work, eat, play and go to the toilet.
“Outside of Christ, I would seek to encounter God. In Christ, I am in a permanent encounter with God. Therefore, I am not seeking for the encounter of a life-time; I am in a lifetime of encounter!”
“Encountering” God used to be something I tried to make happen through my “spiritual” disciplines or activities like praying, Bible reading and singing worship songs. But it became effortless when I started to believe that I am already in a lifetime of encounter.
The practice of “spiritual” activities are no longer special or more spiritual than the other things I do. All activities during the day are an invitation to hang out with Jesus, talk to Him, listen to Him and do life together.
In the midst of your busy life as you juggle many activities like family time, church activities, sports, Bible study times, housekeeping, reading books, time with friends, do emails, etc., sometimes you might wonder… “How can I spend more time with God?”
You end up trying to fit God in your daily routine and family life and in the end you feel frustrated and guilty because you think God isn’t enough of a priority in your life.
If you are still trying to make God a central part of your life – adding Him into your daily schedule or routine, trying to do the “right” things to please Him – it’s about time you realize He’s already made you a central part of His life!
Because you are a central part of His life, it’s impossible to make Him first place in your life.
Certainly there are many thing that clamor for our attention. And yes, demands and distractions in our lives are real. But unlike the religious advice I received, I don’t have to worry about letting other things become more important or more of a priority than my relationship with God because I’m incapable and not called to keep God first place in my life – I’m free of that lie.
That doesn’t mean I don’t cultivate my relationship with God. I do. I talk with God, listen and actively fellowship with Him – both when having time alone and throughout the day – in order to discover more of Him and experience abundant life.
Of course you can draw aside to be quiet whenever you want, but let’s discover the joy of Abba’s companionship in every detail of life. The more you grow conscious of how He is with you all the time the more you’ll experience a living breathing relationship with God no matter what you do.
Thus, the key to experience God’s abundant life – His love, joy, peace, power, etc. – is not by legalistically trying to give God enough of a priority in the context of your busy life as if He can be put number one on your priority list.
To experience abundant life and walk in fullness of love and power is to continue to renew your mind and stay aware of God’s indwelling presence and His love for you.
As Romans 6:8 says, “To be Spirit-minded is life and peace.” In other words, choose to stay conscious of His joyous presence and you’ll get wrecked by His supernatural love, joy and peace.
As you depend on Him, you can’t help but experience and manifest the Person that’s living inside of you.
Your Grace walk isn’t about trying to keep God first place in your life, but about God expressing Himself through you wherever you are and with whomever you are.
Enjoy not putting God first place in your life, but the resting in Who He is and who you are in Him and the effortless bearing of fruit as a result.
Bas is a husband to Michelle and Dad to Anouk. As a missionary, speaker and writer, based in Amsterdam, he uses his website www.basrijksen.com as a platform to share God’s grace to help people walk in fullness of identity and power. In his free time he enjoys reading, running, family and drinking black coffee with friends.