When learning to shoot a pistol, there are certain fundamentals that might seem counter-intuitive, but once you get them down you are able to shoot faster and more accurately once you master them. The one I’ll be highlighting here is the focus on the front sight of your pistol when lining up your shot, which has been repeated in several training sessions from off-duty police officers to Navy SEALs.
Your eyes can focus in on only one certain distance at any given time. When pointing your gun at a target it is natural to want to get that target into the best focus you can, but when you do that the front sight will be blurry. You might hit the target, but that blurry picture you have at arm’s length isn’t helping you accomplish this. Better to know your target, then focus on that front sight so that it is crystal clear. If you do this, everything has a way of working itself out. Just be sure to follow the basic rules of firearm safety.
Likewise, there are concepts that will help you understand first things and secondary things in the Bible. If you let the secondary things get a bit blurry while the first things come into sharp focus, everything has a way of working itself out. Are there exceptions to this? Sure there are! But the concept is right more often than not.
In my formative years, I was taught by well meaning Sunday School teachers that the primary reason someone would turn to Jesus was so that you would go to Heaven some day when you die. And you would share this message with others so they would also go to Heaven some day when they die. But is that the gospel? Is that the primary reason for Jesus’ sacrifice? John 3:16 tells us that God sent His Son so that anyone believing in Him might have eternal life. But later we are told that eternal life means to know God (John 17:3). So the Father sent the Son so that we might know God through the working of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is a Trinitarian work by God.
Therefore, this gospel that we proclaim isn’t primarily intended to get us into Heaven someday when we die. That is more of a side effect of the gospel that involves us knowing God. Instead of this as our goal, Jesus tells us to seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness, not a fire insurance style transaction. But you know what? When you seek His kingdom and His righteousness, you get eternal life included. Both in knowing God and in enjoying Him forever. Just maintain focus on that front sight and you get the eternal goal as well as a productive life.
Likewise, when asked to summarize the law, Jesus said that the entire law could be met by loving God and neighbor. Here is the reference:
You can try harder to study the law and do all the things within it in order to meet the demands, but if you focus on the front sight of loving God with all that you can and then in using that love to love your neighbor as well, you will meet those demands. This is not the summation of the gospel though. This summarizes the law. The gospel is there for when you have failed to look at this front sight and sought a better way to live. The righteousness of Jesus covers your sin.
The Law is a command to love God and neighbor. The Gospel is to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Therefore, the best way to do this is to have Jesus as your front sight. Focus on His work done on your behalf instead of your many failings. And all these things will be added to you.