Focused on What is Most Important

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Leviticus 11-12; Matthew 26:1-25

king-queen-salt-and-pepper-mills-1

When Jesus was at Bethany visiting the house of Simon, who had a skin disease, a woman came to him with a vase made of alabaster containing very expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ head while he was sitting at dinner. Now when the disciples saw it they were angry and said, “Why this waste? This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus knew what they were thinking. He said, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She’s done a good thing for me. 11  You always have the poor with you, but you won’t always have me (Matthew 26:6-11, Common English Bible).

If you have ever played chess, you know the importance of the queen in the game. If you haven’t played before let me tell you about the queen. The queen can move in any direction, as many spaces as you might desire. She can move exactly like all the other pieces on the board (with the exception of the knight). Because she can move in so many directions and so many spaces she is incredibly important.

The king, on the other hand, is nowhere near as powerful. Like the queen, the king can move in any direction. Where the king’s power is limited is the number of spaces it can make in a single move. One. That’s it, the king can move one space in any direction, no further (I’m not getting into castling here, this isn’t really about chess). Even the lowly pawn, in its first move, can move two spaces.

So, why is the king most important when its power on the board is so limiting? Well, if you lose your queen the game is not necessarily over. If you lose your king, the game is over. That makes the king the most important piece.

I once played a game where my opponent was so determined to protect his queen he started losing many of the other pieces. While the queen is the most powerful, the other pieces are still important. Finally, as valiantly tried to protect the honor of his queen, he left the king open to attack and the game was over. He lost his concern for what was most important.

Our king took the opportunity one night in Bethany to teach the disciples (and us) about what was most important and that we should always maintain our focus. A woman poured a jar of expensive perfume on Jesus. The disciples saw it as a waste. It could be sold and the money used to minister to the poor. Remember in yesterday’s lesson Jesus talked about separating the sheep and the goats and the sheep were those who did the work of ministry and they would receive their eternal reward. And those who didn’t minister? They too would receive their eternal reward but it would be nowhere near as nice. Jesus was saying how important ministry like feeding the hungry was.

Yet Jesus says in this lesson that what the woman did by pouring the perfume over him was even more important. What gives?

Before answering that question, please allow me to ask you a question. What is the most important thing the Church does? Worship! Everything else the Church does is also done by someone else in society. Worship is where we live and show our love for God. Yes, the other is important because Jesus said, “Love your neighbor.” If we live out our love for God in worship, we will live out our love of neighbor.

The queen may be the most powerful piece on the chess board. But, if you lose her, you can continue in the game. If you lose the king, all is lost and the game is over. Likewise, serving neighbor is important for a Christian but if that is all we do, we miss the point. If we worship, the rest will work itself out.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,
Keith

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved

Author:

Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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