Chapter 1 Vlog & Questions – The First Thing – The One Thing You Need To Know About God Book
Chapter 1 – The First Thing
“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
This is a classic encounter from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Keller uses it in his book and I thought it would be a great way to start mine. The first thing you need to know in your walk with God is where you want to go. The part that is difficult in regards to Christianity is the place you want to go is not a physical place. Many Christians are led to believe the place they want to go is a church building but are frustrated when they still feel empty and unsatisfied. See the place you want to go in Christianity is a place of peace, love, joy and the fruits of the spirit being born in you. This happens on the inside of you, not in a physical place. Not that it can’t happen in a physical church building, but unfortunately just because you go to a church building does not mean you will be in a place of peace.
Once you understand where you want to go, it helps you navigate which way to go. Isaiah 26:3 says “you will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you..”. A big indicator of whether or not you’re on the right path with God, is if you’re in peace. In other words, if what you’re believing or being taught about God doesn’t keep you in perfect peace, then what you are believing or being taught is not true. Keep this in mind as you read this book and use it as a plumbline for anything you hear about God.
We can see this effect I’m referring to that Jesus has on people in Luke 24. This was the day Jesus rose from the dead. He appeared to two of his disciples who were on the way to the village of Emmaus, however they didn’t know it was him until the end of their encounter. But once their eyes were opened, they said to one another,
““Were not our hearts burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and opening the Scriptures to us?”
The word burning in this scripture in the original language is kaiomenē which means to ignite, light, burn, lit. and met; I consume with fire. Apparently a primary verb; to set on fire, i.e. Kindle or consume.The kids nowadays like to use the word lit in their language a lot. They use it as a term to describe something that is really good and/or exciting. Like that party on Friday night is going to be lit. Well, that is what happens when you encounter Jesus…you get “lit” per this scripture. If you’re not feeling lit when you’re hearing about Jesus, then something is wrong.
Another great point about direction from Keller’s book is when he said:
“…the quality of any answer is determined by the quality of the question. Ask the wrong question, get the wrong answer. Ask the right question, get the right answer. Ask the most powerful question possible, and the answer can be life altering.”
In regards to the church, I think most Chriistians and church leaders ask the wrong question. The question I believe most Christians ask is “what does God want me to do?” The question that is not only the right one, but a life altering one, is “what does God want me to know?” I’ll explain why this is in the chapter titled the one thing. For now just know that what God wants you to know is a life altering question and I’ll provide the answer for you in this book.
We can see the first thing I’m referring to illustrated in the life of a baby. Think about what happens when a care comes to a baby. What is the first thing they do? Well, they don’t get busy worrying or thinking about what they’re going to do. They just cry don’t they? Another way of saying this is that they cast their care on their parents. The moment they feel any discomfort they just cry out to their parents. They don’t even have to think about it. A baby just effortlessly cries out to their parents when they need something.
This natural reflex exhibited by a baby, should mirror how we interact with our Heavenly Father. The problem is, as we become adults we’re told by the world that we need to be responsible and take care of things ourselves. Now, I understand that an adult shouldn’t be relying on their parents their whole life. However, spiritually speaking, we were never meant to take on the cares of the world ourselves. A great preacher from South Africa named Bertie Brits (Dynamic Love Ministries www.bertiebrits.com) that I listen to a lot and reference a few times in this book likes to refer to this dynamic as “response ability”. We are simply called to respond to what God has done for us, not take the responsibility upon ourselves.
But just knowing that you should cast your cares on God won’t give you the ability to do so. We live in a fallen world with an enemy who distracts us and tries to persuade us that the answer to our problems are the things of the world. He gets us to believe lies that if we can get enough money then we will have peace. He gets us to think if we can get the job and the spouse and the kids and the house, then all our problems will go away. But if you look at our society today, you can see many people who have those things but still don’t have any peace or satisfaction. They are caught up in a vicious cycle of doing things to get things only to find that those things don’t actually give them what they want. They then think they must not have enough things. Unfortunately it usually takes some sort of bad event like a death in the family, loss of job, etc. for them to finally take a step off the cycle and see what is really important in life.
The only thing that will cause you to cast your cares is knowing how much God cares for you. Knowing how precious you are to Him; knowing that He desires to bring forth life in you and He is faithful to do it. Knowing His integrity to only be good to you like a good parent is. This is what will give you the peace, love and joy that many seek in their lives but never find.
Of course, there is scriptural precedent for this. The Bible tells us in Matthew 6 to seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you. And in Proverbs 3:5 to acknowledge Him in all our ways and he will make our paths straight.
Jesus gives us a parable in Mark 4 related to this topic as well. He says if you don’t understand this parable then you will not understand any of the other parables. So this is a very important one and the first one that we should seek to understand because it is the foundation.
Here is how the parable goes in Mark chapter 4:
3 “Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seed. 4 As he scattered it across his field, some of the seed fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate it. 5 Other seed fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. 6 But the plant soon wilted under the hot sun, and since it didn’t have deep roots, it died. 7 Other seed fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants so they produced no grain. 8 Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” 9 Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”
And Jesus’ explanation of it:
14 The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others. 15 The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message, only to have Satan come at once and take it away. 16 The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. 17 But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. 18 The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God’s word, 19 but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things, so no fruit is produced. 20 And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
There are two main concepts in this parable. One is that God’s word produces the fruit. The second is that the cares of the world can choke out the word and be a stumbling block to the word being fruitful. It’s apparent that the goal is to be this good and fertile soil. To be the one who hears and accepts God’s word and sees the harvest. But I think the part that gets misunderstood is that the ones who have the soil that isn’t fertile aren’t just bad people. That can happen to anybody. It comes from being distracted. Distracted from what though? You guessed it…the one thing.
In becoming distracted we begin to meditate on that worry. Then we start getting busy thinking about what it means and how we can figure out what’s happening. It’s not just that a care comes but how we can figure out a way to fix it through our own ability. Then our mind and imagination becomes consumed with this. This is what the cares of the world is talking about.
The first thing you need to know is that God cares for your life more than you do even and it makes Him happy when you come to Him. The Father is not scrutinizing you saying well if you just read your Bible or came to church more, then I might not mind you coming to me. No! He wants you to come to Him. That is the life we are designed for. We are meant to cast our cares on Him, not carry the burdens of this life ourselves. God is dead serious about bringing the truth to any area of your life that you feel you can’t come to Him about. I think you’ll see that is a consistent theme throughout this book. Here are some scriptures that line up with this:
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Phil 4:6-7
Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. – Psalm 55:22
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – Hebrews 4:16
After most of my blog posts I would post a song that I thought went along well with the theme of the post. I’ll post a song I think goes along with the theme of every chapter of the book as well. They won’t all necessarily be Christian songs, just songs I think are a good fit. I want you to imagine it like God singing them to you. You can use these for praise and worship before or after your small groups if you so wish.
- Ch. 1 Questions
- What is the right and life altering question we should ask God?
- How does the life of a baby illustrate how our relationship with God should be?
- What is the only thing that will get you to cast your cares on God?What did Jesus say about the parable in Mark 4?
- Read Mark 4:3-20. What are the two main concepts in this parable?
- Are the ones in Mark 4 without the fertile soil bad people? Why is it that their soil is not fertile?
- What is the root cause behind being distracted?
- Think about a time when you have been distracted. Discuss with the group if you are comfortable and how you could have handled the situation better in light of what you learned in this chapter
- Think about a time when you felt scrutinized. Do you feel like God scrutinizes you? What effect do you think that might have on your relationship with Him?
- Discuss your best memories of casting your care on God and how He came through for you
- What are some practical things you can do to stay focused on the first thing?