When I think of what is important to me I think of what or who has caught and held my attention. While the game is in progress the team with possession of the football may be extremely important. When time runs out, it’s not important at all.
There are, however, some things which never lose their importance. It is well known, however, that a claim of importance is not always evidenced in the life of one making that claim.
Image by Philipp Stegmann
By Steve Hall
My dog has determined that certain things are important. Among those are treats, playtime and squirrels. We managed to convince her early that deer were not important but unfortunately could not accomplish the same with squirrels.
My grandson also has decided that certain things are important. Mom and dad’s attention, construction vehicles and having friends are all high on his list. But that is right now. We don’t think much about his current choices as the list regularly changes.
Apparently the Sadducees also had decided that certain things were important. They had, in their deliberations, concocted a story to prove a negative, namely that heaven does not exist. Their story may have confounded most listeners, but it proved nothing. Nevertheless, the subject was important to them as well as to those who believed the opposite. Now what is of note here, what has caught and held my attention, is the very fact that the issue was important — at least important enough that it was the impetus behind the creation of a story. But what was the issue?
We know that the Sadducees did not believe in the continuation of life after physical death, nor did they believe in a resurrection. But the tenor of this encounter with Jesus would suggest that there was another agenda behind the confrontation. Maybe it was to influence others by ‘stumping’ the most notable teacher of the day. Maybe they were just using the opportunity to reinforce their personal position. In any case we should note that it was the Scribes, not the Sadducees, who commended Jesus for having spoken well. What should also be noted is that Jesus’ words didn’t seem to change any Sadducee minds. Apparently what was important was not settling the matter of a resurrection but rather being proven right.
Important things come and go. Every one us can recall things that were of terrible importance at one age in our life but are ignored now: a particular toy or game, a particular sporting event, a particular person, a particular class or test or teacher, a particular job prospect and so on and so forth. Some things are of passing importance because they are realized in our lives. Others lose their importance because the circumstances of our lives have changed. Still others we discover to never have been so important in the first place.
When I think of what is important to me I think of what or who has caught and held my attention. While the game is in progress the team with possession of the football may be extremely important. When time runs out, it’s not important at all. The details of the Periodic Table of Elements may have hold all my memorizing attention — but only while I was in chemistry class. Providing for the safety and necessities of my family change as kids grow up and move out on their own.
There are, however, some things which never lose their importance. For many of these we have inherited platitudes which are easily recalled: “What goes up must come down.” Or “Water seeks it’s only level.” Or “One rotten apple can spoil the barrel.” We acknowledge these as wisdom gathered over centuries even though we may have to modify or limit them from time to time. We know that they are valuable and important in the ordinary affairs of life.
It is well known, however, that a claim of importance is not always evidenced in the life of one making that claim. That’s at least one of the reasons we assert that actions speak louder than words. This leads directly to the question of the importance of God.
Agnostics, that is those who deny the existence of God, may escape the question of God’s importance. All others must face that question. Is the existence of God important in their lives? The answer, to a great extent, would turn on the response to a second question: Is God involved in the affairs of men or not? If the answer is ‘no’ then it is possible that His importance to us is no greater than that of the furthermost star. But if the answer is ‘yes’ then we must further ask if we see His involvement as beneficial or detrimental. Why? Because the nature of God’s involvement guides the appropriateness of man’s response. In either case, however, a response becomes a necessity once we assert that God is involved with his creation.
All of this leads me to wonder about the veracity of those who claim that God is significant or important yet offer but a meager response or even none at all. If God is in any way, shape or form actually important to me then that means He has caught and held my attention. It also means that, unlike the Sadducees, I cannot just go on my way. When someone is truly important to us it is not unusual to exhibit even mild versions of obsession such as the need to think about them or talk to them frequently. So we have to consider that incident with the Sadducees and determine if heaven and resurrection are our ultimate desire or if we’re just looking for the ‘right’ answer to our questions.