Putting the best before the good

One of my teachers in college had a saying that has stuck with me over the years. It went something like, "Some people are so heavenly-minded that they are no earthly good." She was referring to some good church leaders and pastors. Her face still sticks with me. She was an excellent Christian education and apologetics teacher. Several things this older lady taught have stayed with me these 50-plus years. She told it like it was.

That particular saying, however, does not ring so true with me now as it once did. In our day and age, my tendency would be to say that any Christians are so earthly-minded that they are of little heavenly good. The pursuit of pleasure, expensive possessions, power, prestige, money and other things has taken many of our minds off eternal things. The pressures and schedules of work and other responsibilities can be almost overwhelming at times. It is also a time in history when you don't have to try very hard to become a sports addict. Some of us are by nature workaholics. Sitting still or simply relaxing is either a conscious or unconscious waste of time. Still others seem to always be achievement-oriented. The list goes on and on.

The results of these have one thing in common. They all keep us from the most important of all endeavors. They could all have the effect of us standing before our Maker as strangers. It takes a real effort to do the best and right things in life. The good can take the place of the best.

The parable in Luke 10:38-42 gives a clear picture of the pull in two directions. Jesus came to town. Mary forgot about getting supper. She just sat and visited with Jesus. Martha probably thought that Jesus would be hungry after an all-day walk. She wanted to get Him something to eat before they sat around and visited. Martha asked Jesus, God the Son, to tell Mary to help her get something to eat. Jesus may or may not have been really hungry. As usual, He did not think about Himself. He, in short, told Martha to not worry about rushing around the kitchen. As always, He was involved in building relationships. He was putting people before his need for food. Certainly He would know what was best. I tend to defend Martha. Some of us are of that same mold. Let's do what we think needs to be done.

The more time we spend with someone, the better we get to know them. The longer we know them the better we should know them. When we stand before our Lord, will we be facing a friend? Will we be meeting a friend that we have spent considerable time with each day? Will we be meeting a real friend or just a casual acquaintance?

We all like to spend quality time with real friends. God is always present and always available. Days, weeks, months and even years go by rapidly. Why is it so hard to spend time with the best and most loving friend that one could ever have? It does not come naturally. We by nature (naturally) are sinners. The natural can be good. The best is all supernatural. It only comes as we invite Him to live in and through us. Why settle for less than the best when it is totally available to all of us? The more we spend time with God, the more we are at peace with God and ourselves.

For the 2010 Club, Feb. 14 takes us to Leviticus 19 and Matthew 27.

Let's have a great week filled with friendship and love with God, family and friends.

- This is a Chaplain's Corner column reprinted from a past issue of Lillie Suburban Newspapers.

Crist Langelett, known to North St. Paul and Maplewood readers as a longtime Review columnist, is a chaplain for the North St. Paul city, police and fire departments, a chaplain at Washington County Jail, a past president of the North St. Paul Area Emergency Food Shelf and one of the founders of North St. Paul's Polar Arena. He is active in his local church and in civic groups.