In our world many things are touted as important and lasting, but what is the measure of what is truly lasting and important? What are the things we should be pursuing first and foremost?
The other day another high point was reached in the relations between Israel and the U.S. On May 14, the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. A move that was approved by law in the U.S. Congress in 1995, but delayed by every president until President Trump brought that 23-year-old law to fruition. That move is celebrated by many as important. Certainly it is time we kept our word to our ally. Certainly we should seek peace and security for Israel, but again, how do we measure what is important?
Recently, I heard someone read about the accomplishments of the Israelites over the last few decades. Per capita they excel in the technological industries. They are among the top in production of polished gems and diamonds. Per capita they are leaders in many ways that contribute to the industrialized world.
To be fair, Israel is not the only nation we could point to that has contributed much to the advancement of the world in the last three or four decades. Japan has added greatly, especially in the areas of electronics, communications, and computers. In addition, China and India have emerged as technological, information and economic powers.
But are these accomplishments indicative of what is important? Are these things the true measure of a man, or a nation? Obviously many in the world would say yes, but what God says in the Bible should have us reconsider that assessment.
Israel and its people, some 3,000 years ago, enjoyed a position as a world power, but because they turned their backs on God, they were reduced to almost nothing. Why is that, and why do I point to other nations of the world today in the same regard?
God’s Word tells us that to know Him is what we should pursue as a priority. (Jeremiah 9:24) We see God’s perspective regarding true wisdom in this, and knowing God comes about in knowing the long awaited Promised One, the One first promised in Genesis 3:15.
God says that to have a relationship with the Son, Jesus the Christ, is to have a relationship with God the Father. If we know God it is because we know the Son, but if we do not know the Son we do not know God, nor do we have the gift of eternal life. (1 John 5:9-12; John 17:3) I realize that the people of the nations of the world will object to that, but if they do, they object to what God says.
Further, this life eternal should be able to be seen in how we deal with the things God considers important: the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, true concern for the poor, the disenfranchised, and the elderly in ways that lead to sustainable action. It is seen in how we love and adhere to the wisdom and ways of God, as put forth in His Word, the Bible. Many in the world profess to know God, but Titus 1:16 says that although they claim to know God, by their actions, they deny Him.
By the measure of God’s Word the U.S., as well as the nations mentioned above and the other nations of the world, are sorely lacking in what is important. We, as people of this world, people who have been created in the image of God, must seek to be in a relationship of faith with God, a relationship that can be achieved only by faith in the Person and finished work of Jesus, who alone is the Savior.
Without that relationship all of our “achievements” amount to nothing. Without that relationship, the attainment of a reclaimed prominence of Jerusalem gains Israel nothing.
The accomplishments and contributions of Japan, France, and countless other nations only add to a pile of eternally meaningless rusting trophies on the ash heap of man’s efforts toward self-importance. Without Christ, the technological and economic increase of China, India and other nations only add to their moral weakness and spiritually bankrupt status.
Is it important to seek peace in the world? Of course. Is it important to seek to build alliances that add to the security of this planet? Of course! But let us first seek the peace with God that can never be lost, a peace that enables the heart to truly seek the well being of all our neighbors in the world.
Let us stop our whirlwind pursuits of supposed personal, national and global accomplishments, and look to what God says are the things that matter — the things that last. Let us each and all pursue a relationship with Him through faith in Jesus the Christ. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and through Him alone can we find the peace and security people truly need, that truly lasts.
Then we will be in a position to measure advancements and accomplishments from a vantage point of true wisdom. Then we will find we are on the road to pursue what truly matters.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.