When I was 13, may dad took me hunting for the first time (yes, I’m using a hunting story. If you don’t like hunting, I’m sorry). On one particular afternoon, my dad and I were watching a hillside through our binoculars for any activity. All I saw was grass. Suddenly, my dad got excited and said, “Andy, look to your right.” I looked to my right, and all I saw was more grass. “What?” I asked. “Right in front of you,” my dad said. I dropped my gaze slightly, and all I saw was even more grass. My dad finally said, “put your binoculars down.” I put my binoculars down, and standing right in front of me were two deer, just staring at us. I had been so engrossed at looking at small things far away, that I hadn’t noticed the big things standing right in front of me.
No, I didn’t shoot either one of the deer (they weren’t legal size), however, as you may have guessed, there is an application to this story. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up on one little thing that we miss the big picture. When Jesus came to the earth, there were a lot of people who couldn’t see the big picture. In Mark 12:28ff, a scribe asked Jesus what the greatest command was. Jesus responded that it was to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That (the big picture) is more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices (the small things). While sacrifices and offerings were important to the Jews, and they were commanded by God, loving God and other people was more important.
Sometimes we can get caught up in the same things in our lives. We can get so caught up in obeying the specifics, and going through the motions that we forget what it’s all about. While obedience is important (John 14:15), we need to remember what makes religion important: God, and our relationship to Him.