First

Dr. Doug Posey  
e*sermon

If you can endure the various, seemingly increasing, self-congratulatory award shows, you may see the occasional recipient who begins their expression of appreciation by thanking God, perhaps specifically, Jesus. The more post/anti-Christian our culture becomes, the more out-of-place—even uncomfortable—such declarations feel. You get the distinct impression that such a person’s stock likely just fell drastically among the entertainment elite and that future opportunities may be negatively affected, regardless of talent.

By contrast, one year during the Emmy awards, the self-described “militant atheist” Kathy Griffin, an Emmy award winning stand-up comedian and actress, said something unfortunately seen as more acceptable in her industry. As she received her award, she stepped to the microphone and said, “A lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award. I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus... [then, unmentionable comment] …This award is my god now!” One could almost hear (over the guffaws of the gathering) the collective cringe of not only the FCC, but Christians everywhere. A well-placed lightening bolt wouldn’t have surprised (or disappointed) me at that point. But that’s just not Jesus’ style. 

Of course, Christ endured much worse than cheap insults from the likes of Griffin. The fact that He suffered death on a cross ultimately gave her the freedom to make those blasphemous comments, not to mention the ability to win the award. So, Ms. Griffin, indirectly, no one had more to do with your award, or drawing your next breath, than Jesus.

We can expect a self-centered, self-sufficient attitude from narcissistic celebrity atheists. But, practically speaking, that attitude is not limited to their ilk. Many people, who would never dream of dissing Jesus, greatly minimize His role by not giving Him credit for anything, when He deserves credit for everything. Some of these people can even be found in church on any given Sunday.

Christ has supremacy. The only question is, do you and I recognize and respond to it in our lives? Do we see ourselves (who we are) in light of Who He is? Are we living lives that say, as an opening statement, “First, I’d like to thank Jesus Christ…”?

Regardless of the circumstances, without Christ as the central theme of one’s life, one is destined to a futile juggling act in which one may keep life’s various pieces aloft for a while, but they’re bound to come down, smashing on the hard floor of self-sufficiency. That may seem an extreme statement. Paul said it this way: “He is before all things, and in Him all things consist [hold together]” (Colossians 1:17).

All things hold together in Christ. For me, years ago I left ministry for a time and found myself selling advertising, then cars. A lesson for me in keeping Christ first was a career—a calling—falling apart. For others it may be a relationship, a marriage, a family, health, or plans and desires crumbling. Keeping life together requires a full reliance on the Author of Life. You must put first things first, by putting the First One first.

In the twenty-nine years since my return to full-time ministry, the Lord has taught me—and continues to teach me—the difference between what it means to be a pastor pursuing a career, and a pastor pursuing Christ. How about you? Who, or what, are you pursuing in your life? Are you trying to keep it together yourself, or reverting to fruitless, dead-end coping mechanisms when things don’t seem to work? If so, you’ve said by your actions, “Jesus, I’ll take it from here.” Now is the time to give Him what He deserves: first place, nothing less.

“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’” —JOHN 8:58

Living Oaks