Cabelas loves Tom because Tom loves everything about elk hunting: his four-wheeler, camouflaged clothes, warm boots, knives, gun, ammo, elk call, and a big pile of other outdoor gear. Tom arrives with so much stuff that we’re sure he’s been packing and repacking for weeks. But poor Tom always seems to be missing just one thing—an elk.
If it wasn’t so cold out there, the rest of the guys would probably hunt just wearing jeans and t-shirts. We have elk on the brain: we talk and scheme and dream about elk—and sometimes we even get one. Actually, it’s called elk hunting because it’s all about finding, shooting, cleaning, packing, freezing, cooking and eventually eating an elk. It’s not about accumulating a truck-load of hunting gear.
People easily get side-tracked. We often forget to keep the main thing the main thing.
You fall in love with a girl, and Mom asks, “What’s she like?”
“Well, she has a blue Mustang, and a cool iPhone. She lives near the mall—that’s where we met. Her sister works there, and her dad is a cop.” Okay, but what about HER? She’s the main thing, right?
Teachers’ unions are famous for discussing, protesting, voting and spending big bucks on everything but the main thing. Education is supposed to be all about kids learning what they need for the real world, isn’t it? If only...
Or why do we go to church, read the Bible, and pray? For comfy chairs, coffee, lively music and brilliant pastors? Do I read the Bible because my wife bought me a new one with multicolor footnotes? Do I pray because it calms my anxious feelings? What is the real goal of our ‘religious’ activities?
GOD is—or, if He isn’t, He should be. The 1644 Westminster Shorter Catechism says it like this: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This, of course, assumes that we also know Him, for we can’t glorify or enjoy whom we don’t know.
God is Himself the chief end (the main thing) for which we have been created—knowing Him, delighting in Him, and giving Him honor and delight (Is. 43:7, 21).
Because He is infinite, God is beyond our complete knowledge (Job 11:7-9, Rom. 11:33), of course, but we can still know many truths about Him, and know Him personally, intimately. Such a relationship with God is what Paul wanted more than anything. “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ… I want to know Christ…” (see Phil. 3:7-11). Paul took part in many religious activities, but God Himself was their primary motivation.
I am convinced that many people lose interest in church (and in the Bible and prayer) because they or the church neglect the main thing. Instead of emphasizing the character of God—knowing, pleasing, and enjoying Him—they treat church activities as ends in themselves. It’s a bit like getting all excited about a telescope while forgetting about the stars.
We also need to be cautious that we don’t get more excited about the ‘side benefits’ of our faith (like peace, fellowship, and assurance of Heaven) than we do about God Himself. So let’s plead with Him to help us to shift our focus to be more like David’s: “Taste and see that the Lord is good…” (Ps. 34:8). “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You, my God” (Ps. 42:1). “You will fill me with joy in Your presence…” (Ps. 16:11). “This is what I seek… to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple” (Ps. 27:4).
Dear Father, please teach us how to make You ‘the main thing’ in our lives!