In evangelical circles we are taught to put God first, then everything else second. This is very Platonic.
God created us to commune with him, we learn from the scripture. We were created in perfect harmony with God. Then we chose sin and in so doing, put our own thirst for knowledge in front of the creator. In order to defeat sin and live in a state of Eden again, we must put God first.
Classic Sunday School.
It’s not that everything besides putting-God-first is wrong, or bad, but it pales in comparison to Christ and him crucified. There is worship, which is holy, and there is outdoor sports, which is okay. There is fasting, which is divine, and there is food, which is okay. There is loving God first, and then there is loving ones spouse second. There is doing missionary work first, and there is traveling of lesser importance.
This is platonic. It divides life into godly things, and worldly things. Or just godly things, and waste-of-time things.
If you doubt me, spend a year traveling the world or become a football player. Then all of sudden you’ve lost sight of the Kingdom of God. Or better yet become a missionary. Then everyone will pray for you because you are doing “God’s work”; you’ll even get prayed for from the pulpit. Then come home and feel the loss of prayers.
We even see this in weddings, too. “Put God first,” the clergy will advise the new couple. And then the pastor will repeat the scripture “As for me in my house, we will serve the Lord,” and say “Marriage is great, but don’t forget to commune with God first.” For Pete’s sake, why can’t we say, “Marriage is great” and bring out the wine. Here is what the Bible says:
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
There is no God first, but drink, eat, and celebrate second. Instead eating and drinking is an act of giving God glory as we enjoy his world. When I’m traveling and hiking the mountain, that’s worship too.
In Matthew 20, we read the parable of the vineyard. Those who started working at 5 in the afternoon got the same salary as those who worked all day. They complained “What the heck, I served you more. I’m more kingdom minded then those people. I’m not as lazy as those people.” But the master says it’s all the same. The Christian life is not about how much we work and labor, but about who is our Lord. The value of serving God is not to make the mountain of ministry great and devalue those who “only” take care of their own kids, or play soccer (football), or travel the world. As I said, God does not need us, Acts 17:25.
And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.
God doesn’t need us, but thanks to God, we can breathe. This, too, brings glory to God. The physical world is as holy as the divine.
Here is the ironic part. In our act of trying to make sure that travel, soccer (football), and a hot spouse is not our idol, we make those things our idols when separate those from the Glory of God. The Bible says we should do all things for the glory of God, but if we worship for God’s glory, and play soccer for our own personal recreation, we’ve lost site of doing it for the glory of God, and then soccer becomes our escape from God, in short, an idol. The next week we skip soccer, thinking we are more righteous for staying home and praying. This is absurd.
After hearing the complaints that he had performed miracles on the sabbath day, Jesus told the pharisees to get over it. Jesus was very postmodern in saying this. “Look, you know all those ways you’ve compartmentalized worship and folly? forget it all,” he was saying.
This is not a license to sin. Heck, even for those who do not believe in Jesus, the fact that God isn’t going to slap them dead does not mean they will go off the deep end. The point isn’t that we go jump off a cliff, or hord all the goods and share none. Instead God has called us to a way of living where everything is God first; that is we do everything – eat, drink, marry – for the glory of God. If you can’t do it for God’s glory -aka, murder, steal, hit, gossip against your neighbor, hord your riches – then don’t do it. If you can, by all means enjoy all the good gifts.
Remember, the neoplatonist may have said the metaphysical is better than the physical. Jesus killed that metanarrative. Now bring out the wine. He has risen indeed.