One of them asked him, “Which commandment is the most important?”
Jesus answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
And he said to Jesus, “You are right, Teacher.”
When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel a bit crazy. Not that I’m scared of losing my mind (although my kids sometimes give me a run for my money), but I do have the tendency to obsess over pretty trivial things. Just ask my wife. Our morning ritual of consuming caffeine is carried out with as much solemnity as Catholic Mass. During the day, I shamelessly use my phone to avoid any unplanned social interactions. In the evenings, I rarely let my kids determine what we do. Normally, the top priority in the house is letting Dad “relax.”
In a word, my natural tendency is to commit my heart, soul, mind and strength to getting precisely what I want. If I were an archer, I would be killing it when it came to pounding the same spot on the target. The only problem, though, is that the goal of life (and archery) is not to be precise, but to be accurate.
A couple of years ago, despite all my precision in getting what I wanted, I realized I wasn’t hitting the center of the target. I was hitting what I was aiming for, but I was aiming for the wrong thing.
Needless to say, my default setting is to live an incredibly self-centered life. But in a season of repentance, I started realizing how embarrassingly self-centered almost everything in my life was. My time with the kids? Just barely enough to keep them from annoying me. My time at work? I’d please people so they would give me approval. My time with my friends? I’d steer all conversations towards my life and ambitions.
And here’s what really scary: it was so easy to subtly make my desires the target of my life. And besides, I had years of practice and old habits die hard. Unless God’s grace had broken into my life, I had no hope I could save myself from myself.
So, What’s the Target?
I did archery as a Middle Schooler. Don’t ask me why. It was weird. I refer to Middle School as the “dark years.” Anyway, in archery, there’s a big difference between precision and accuracy. Precision measures how closely your arrows hit the same spot. Accuracy measures how close your arrows are to the actual center the target. It’s so easy mistake one for the other. And with my ability to get precisely what I want, I had fooled myself into thinking I was accurate.
But what does accuracy look like? It’s tempting to think that accuracy must be determined by each individual. That we are all free to determine what it looks like in our lives. But if my heart is already self-serving, I can’t trust myself to free me from myself. I don’t need more of my own desires, I need more of Grace.
I need more of my Father who formed me. I need more of the Holy Spirit who teaches me repentance and joy in self-denial. I need more of Jesus, who said the center of the target was loving God with every fiber of my being. I need to sit longer with Jesus in the garden, when he prayed “Not my will, but Yours be done.”
I need to forget precision, and I need to embrace accuracy.
Lord help me.