One Thing

When there was a bang outside the house at about 0030 one day last month it immediately caused my wife to look out of the window.

One Thing

Our neighbour’s car was on fire and with our car parked parallel to it and just a metre away there was a real danger of ours going up in flames as well. The fire brigade came and dealt with the fire and from where we stood our car looked relatively unscathed – until we went and looked at the back of it!

When material things are lost or damaged, or valued relationships come under strain, anxiety increases as we worry over the loss – or potential loss – of those things that are of value to us.

King David in the Old Testament part of the Bible knew what it was to face danger and difficulty, but he could say, "Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear" (Psalm 27:3). The reason he wouldn't fear: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock" (Psalm 27:1,5).

David appreciated the good things that he had, but there was one thing that he desired above them all, "One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple" (Psalm 27:4).  In his sermon titled The Problem of Anxiety, Tim Keller warns that when any one of the good things of life become the one thing in our life then our anxiety will grow in proportion to our desire for that thing. However, when the "one thing" we desire above all is God, then our fears and anxieties will diminish in proportion to how much we "dwell in the house of the Lord [and] behold the beauty of the Lord".

The Christian life begins with this one thing. One day a rich young ruler approached Jesus asking, "Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17-31). In response to the reminder regarding the commandments of God, the young man replied, "Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth." The Lord Jesus looked at him and loved him, and said, "One thing you lack". Would the rich young ruler be willing to give up his wealth and his position to take up the cross and follow Jesus? Was Christ and Christ alone what captivated the heart of this young man? Sadly, this young man "was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions". The good things replaced the one central thing and he missed out on eternal life for the sake of temporal position and possessions. Will you?

The apostle Paul understood the "one thing". He wrote, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:21). He, like David, had got the one thing that nothing can take away and that death only improves because its reality and presence is experienced more fully – Christ.

What are we living for? When it is anything other than the God who made us for Himself, then fear and anxiety will result as we struggle with the thought of losing them. Let us behold the beauty of the Lord instead and know the confidence that there is nothing at all that can separate us from Him when we have come to trust in Him, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38,39).