I confess that I sometimes major in minors. I allow relatively inconsequential things to obscure other things that are critical.
Case in point: I have had a hard time getting past Duke’s recent loss to Miami in football. In truth, Duke didn’t lose to Miami. They defeated Miami. They lost to referees who performed so inadequately that following the game, the leadership of the ACC suspended all of them. On the last play of the game, Miami scored... by committing three (yep, three!) penalties that the referees failed to call. Then, adding insult to injury, the ref in the Replay Booth refused to review the play (which clearly would have reversed the touchdown and insured Duke’s victory). It was such an emotionally devastating loss in the midst of a stellar season that the team has not been the same since. It’s as if it took the heart out of them. Losing to another team is one thing, but you should never get beaten by the referees. So, I have had a difficult time processing that.
Today (Saturday) I sit in my study at the church reflecting on other things – things more important than ball games won or lost. I sit here today reflecting on the insanity of what occurred in Paris last night, with yet another action taken by godless people in the name of God. It causes me also to reflect on the recent airline tragedy of the Russian plane over Egypt that exploded, also presumably an act of terrorism. I sit here today remembering the faces of the people we recently met in South Africa: the desperately poor hoping for daily bread, the children in an orphanage hoping for a real family to welcome and love them, the incredibly Christ-like ministries being conducted on shoestring budgets, and the ongoing sobering after-effects on the evils of Apartheid. I sit here today realizing that forty thousand children will starve on planet Earth before this day is over. That’s over thirty-three hundred children per hour. I sit here today realizing that one hundred twenty-three thousand little children slept beneath bridges in America last night. I sit here today knowing that one out of every three little girls in our country, and one out of every five little boys, will be victims of physical or sexual abuse before they become teenagers.
Jesus accused people of “straining at gnats and swallowing camels.” In other words, they had their priorities all out of balance. They majored in minors, worrying about things that are at best peripheral and ignoring other things that are absolutely crucial. The prayers I pray, the energies I spend, and the efforts I make during this earthly pilgrimage really ought to be about things that matter. Otherwise, we miss the mark in life and, in so doing, we miss the chance to make a mark that will have meaning in the world.