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Thomas: Be sure to aim at the right target in 2021, including a relationship with God | RELIGION COMMENTARY

With 2020 officially over, have you given thought to what you want out of 2021? What are you aiming to accomplish this year? Or, even a bigger question: What do you want out of life?

What do you have your sights set on? Staying healthy in the midst of this pandemic? A job or new career? Success? Wealth? Reaching the top of your profession? A beautiful home? A luxury car? A perfect family?

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Matt Emmons had the Gold Medal in reach. He was one shot away from claiming victory in the 2004 Olympics in the 50-meter three-position rifle event. All he had to do with his final shot was to just hit the target and the gold medal for first place was his!

Emmons aimed carefully, pulled the trigger — and shot an 8.5 out of 10. He won! The gold was his! But his jubilation was quickly interrupted. The 8.5 on the scoreboard changed to a zero. In what was described as “an extremely rare mistake in elite competition,” Emmons hit the wrong target! Standing in lane 2, he aimed and fired at the target in lane 3. Thus, his final shot was recorded as a “missed shot” worth no points. Instead of the gold, Emmons ended up in eighth place.

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It’s the same in life. It doesn’t matter what great devotion, skills and dedication you have — if you are aiming at the wrong target and pursuing the wrong goals, you lose! And not just you, personally, but people around you who you love and love you. People like your spouse, kids, family, community and church!

Jesus said, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you.” (Matthew 7:21-23)

In essence, Jesus was saying to us that there will be people convinced they had the right target in their sights who, at the end of their lives, will discover they missed the whole point of why God created them. They aimed at and hit the wrong target! These are the people that after a life of accomplishments, helping others, and doing good things — including religious things, will look into Jesus’ eyes and hear Him say, “Sorry, but I don’t know you!”

The single target of our lives — what we should be aiming for — is not just to know about God and do things for Him, but “to know and be known” by God. Everything else is secondary.

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God desires more than anything else to have a deep, profound, intimate, life-changing relationship with you and me! That’s God’s target for our lives! Everything else — our careers, families, callings, ministries — are secondary to this one aim in life! Here’s how good God is: if you hit that one target, putting God first above all things, everything else will fall in place. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

More than anything else, God desires a relationship with us. So much so, that He emptied Himself of all the perks and prerogatives of His divinity and left the wonders and the glory of heaven to come to this planet He created as one of us – a human being. He lived and experienced all that we experience — the heartaches, the pain, the toil, the loneliness and all the brokenness of humanity. Then He died for us — for our sins — removing the one barrier that prevented the relationship that He longs to have with us!

Among the many good targets to aim at in life, make sure you’re aiming and hit this eternal one: a relationship with God through Jesus Christ!

Happy New Year!

The Rev. William Thomas is pastor at Hereford United Methodist Church. He can be reached at pastor@herefordumc.org.

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