If you are like me, you are easily distracted from things in life that are truly important. Few things in life are truly important. Consider some of the texts in the Bible emphasizing the importance of not becoming distracted.
But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42 emphasis added)
Those who know me understand that I can easily be that busy, working, serving guy like Martha. But when we have opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him, that is the one thing we need to do. Our lives have hit a speed bump of sorts . . . are we sitting at the feet of Jesus, or are we worried and bothered by so many things?
Sometimes we allow ourselves to develop habits, establish relationships, accept obligations, and any number of other things that keep us from that which is important.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3 emphasis added)
Are you weary, tired of your circumstances? Are you discouraged, feeling hopeless? Do you have little enthusiasm or motivation to put forth the effort to put one foot in front of the other in running the marathon of faith? I assure you that you are not alone. The solution is Jesus. Think of Jesus. Consider Jesus. Remember Jesus. Purposely fix your eyes on Jesus. We cannot fix our eyes on Jesus unless we have divested our interest in, and devotion to, the things that distract us. Notice,
. . . let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . .
When I read this there is the picture in my mind of a runner (me) running a race. The sin in my life is like barbed-wire wrapped around my legs. The distractions in life are like a heavy boots, a winter coat, a full backpack, a bag of groceries I am carrying. To make progress, and to make it quickly, I need to shed the encumbering baggage and cut off the wire. We know this does not happen without purpose and effort on the part of the runner. What is hindering you from the race? What are you going to do to free yourself from these?
In our current situation we have all the normal distractions plus many additional ones. Some are distracted by the virus, others by thoughts of a conspiracy, others by tracking the data, others by health worries, others by government overreach and constitutional issues, etc. While some attention to some of these things may be needed, for most of us they are a distraction from our devotion and service to the Lord. What is distracting you from following Jesus?
Another text identifies some of the things that makes the Word of God ineffective in an individual life. Many are familiar with this text and readily apply it to other people. The challenge is to look at ourselves and consider if we are distracted from the priorities that are fitting for a follower of Jesus. The parable of the sower/soils warns us about what keeps us from being productive for the Lord.
. . . when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matthew 13:21-22 emphasis added)
Luke 8 puts it this way:
. . . in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. (Luke 8:13-14 emphasis added)
Luke says parable is about those who “will not believe and be saved” but is also clearly true about those who are saved and yet are encumbered in following Jesus. These same things keep disciples of Jesus from being fruitful. Our present situation is fertile ground for affliction or persecution, worries of the world, concerns with riches and the focus on pleasures.
We can easily be carried away and distracted from following the Lord personally or gathering together corporately by any or all of these things.
We know that this is a trial for us. We believe (at least in our heads) that God is going to work these things for our spiritual growth and good. (Romans 8:28; James 1:1-5). So let us live with joy and fix our eyes on Jesus and be diligent about the work God has called us to do without being distracted by those things that are less important or not important at all.