Recently, my family and I were discussing what makes a “good father”. A point I was keen to make is that a good father will have a right relationship with the mother of his children: my wife.
As I noted that the spousal relationship was the top relationship, and that the parental relationship came second, my wife said, “No, you’re getting it wrong.” For a second, I was stunned. “Your relationship with God comes first,” she concluded.
My knee-jerk reaction: “Obviously God comes first.”
A few moments later, a wave of humility swept my thinking back to the shoreline. Is that point so obvious? Is God really first in my life, and if He is, why don’t I automatically think to declare Him to be the most important person in my life? It’s not a trivial matter.
The Apostle Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, penned a letter to the Church at Ephesus, a city located on the western edge of modern-day Turkey. While theologians are probably correct to say this book of the Bible is focused on the need for the Church (all believers) to be unified in the faith, it is interesting to note that Paul ordered his instruction in such a way as to suggest that a person’s relationship with God comes first (Chapters 1-3), and his relationship with the Church comes second (Chapters 4-5). Within the teaching on the Church, the spousal relationship is placed as the top human relationship. The parental relationship is mentioned briefly in Chapter 6 (v.v. 1-4) followed by instruction on coworker relationships (v.v. 5-9). This should be how we prioritize our relationships.
Jesus summarized “the whole Law” in two points: Love God above all else, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). Pretty clear teaching.
I want to be a good father. I want to be a good husband. I want to have good relationships with others as well. What I need is to make give God priority in my life, and He will help me get my other relationships right, in the right order.