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  • Writer's pictureJohn Coleman

First Things First

Updated: Jan 30

Exodus 5:1 (RSVCE): Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’

"Let my people go, that they may hold a great potluck supper!" Wait...no...that's not it. How about this one, "Let me people go, that they may start a top-notch outreach program that shows how much more we care than the church across town!" Hmmm, maybe we should try another time. "Let my people go, that they may have a hip children's program filled with tons of kids!" Somehow, that doesn't seem like enough.


We Christians can get our priorities out of whack. It's so easy to fall into the trap of measuring everything we do, like corporate America or other human organizations. We want to be the best, and the best usually means lots of people and programs. We get so busy with the business of church that we don't have time to stop and pray. Our commitment to this program or that is certainly more important than attending worship with our community. All of the things mentioned above are aspects of dynamic church programs. They are good and necessary. It is undoubtedly essential to feed the poor and educate our young people. And we need to measure some things to know if that particular ministry is effective and necessary. But these good things are not the first thing God asks of God's people through Moses and are not the first thing God asks of us.


God brought his people to freedom so they may worship Him. When the Bible talks about feasts and other communal activities like this, it references God's praise and worship. And we will hear these words in several other places in Exodus. The first thing God asks is for us to worship Him. 


The act of worship reminds us that there is a God in control, and we and the idols of our world are not it. It sets our priorities and reminds us of what freedom serves. Worship of God informs and inspires all the things we do in the world to reflect God's character in all we do. This is why we serve the people in our communities who are hungry, visit the sick and tend to those who need shelter. N.T. Wright in Simply Christian says, "[y]ou become like what you worship. When you gaze in awe, admiration, and wonder at something or someone, you begin to take on something of the character of the object of your worship." Worship is the beginning of molding our character and actions to reflect God. This is where it all begins.


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