I get distracted easily. As a matter of fact, I get distracted so easily that I don’t even realize that I am being distracted. Many times I don’t even realize I was distracted until days later. The other day my wife was reminding me of what we had planned to do with part of our day and I had no idea what she was talking about. She patiently reminded me of our conversation a few days earlier and still I had no clue. She said I was there, I was paying attention, even responsive to what she was saying, and yet I wasn’t.
I had one job during that initial conversation with my wife. The most important thing was that I pay attention to her but somewhere along the way I got distracted. We all get distracted in life. We have an important thing to do, follow Jesus and stay on the path of a disciple. But, oftentimes we end up being distracted. We get off course. Many times we don’t even realize what has happened. Other times we don’t even realize we are off the path. Here are some ways that can help us see if we are living the distracted life.
The Distracted Can Look Like They Are There
Just like that first conversation with my wife, we can look like we are following but in reality our hearts and minds are far from where God would have us. We can show up to church, be a part of our small group, even serve in ministry, but we can be distracted. 2 Chronicles 25 tells of the reign of King Amaziah. It says in verse 2 that Amaziah did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, but not with his whole heart. Later on in the chapter, it talks about how Amaziah eventually led the people of Judah to worship false gods and eventually he was destroyed.
Just like Amaziah, we can go through the motions of following after God. What happens though is the same thing that happened to Amaziah. Because we are not pursuing with our whole heart, we end up going after other things. We might hang on to the show for a while, but eventually we will go where our heart is. The distracted end up chasing after idols.
The Distracted Are Off Mission
God has given us a mission. It is to make disciples of all people. We want to glorify God, make disciples who pursue Jesus, and share His story. When we are distracted we take our eyes off of the mission. My dad was in the military. He would get orders and go and fulfill the mission that was given him. My dad did not take his eyes off of the mission placed in front of him. He followed his superiors.
In 2 Timothy 2:4 Paul writes, “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.” We are all soldiers of the one who enlisted us, our Good King Jesus. Because of that, we follow the mission that he has placed before us. Christians don’t get entangled in civilian pursuits because those things don’t have anything to do with the mission.
We take our eyes off the primary mission when we spend time fighting over secondary or tertiary issues. We spend more time talking about buildings, budgets, numbers, music, and lighting (these conversations have their place but THEY ARE NOT THE MISSION) than we do the Great Commission and the Great Commandment (THESE ARE). This is the work of Satan. He knows he will lose and he wants as many to be a part of that loss as possible. Don’t let him distract you. Don’t get involved in those civilian pursuits.
The Distracted Lack Purpose
Going back to the conversation I had with my wife, to this day I still have no idea what distracted me. I don’t know what I was thinking about, what I was watching, where my mind was. I have no idea. The reason for that is because whatever it was that took my mind off of what was most important had no importance at all. That is the thing with being distracted. We think that whatever it is has incredible value, but it doesn’t. That is why it is called a distraction. We shouldn’t call our kids distractions or a chance for ministry in the middle of a busy day distractions. Those are important things. My kid doesn’t distract me from watching television. Television distracts me from spending time with my kid. Distractions are distractions because they lack purpose.
Matthew 14:22-33 tells the story of Jesus and Peter walking on water. Peter was the only one willing to get out of the boat and walk towards Jesus. He was doing great until he took his eyes off of Jesus. What did he start to look at? He started to look at the wind and how it was driving up the waves. He focused on the creation instead of the one who created and controls it. The same things happen to us. We are distracted by the world around us. The things of this world that don’t really matter take our attention. When we take our eyes off of Jesus, we have to put them on something else. Most of the time, the things that we set our gaze on cause us to sink because they are meaningless.
The Distracted Live For Themselves
Because the distracted are not living on mission and lack purpose, they end up living for themselves. When I was talking with my wife I was being completely selfish. I obviously did not care about what she was saying because I didn’t listen at all. I was doing what I wanted to do for me in that moment. How terrible of a thing that is?
Philippians 2:3 tells us to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” When we are distracted we take our eyes off of the world around us. We become me-centered instead of Christ-centered. One of the biggest marks of a distracted person is who they are ultimately serving.
Good News For The Distracted
The good news for the distracted is that Jesus is still there waiting for you to refocus. No matter how long we have had our mind elsewhere (or even if it was ever there with Jesus to begin with), he is there. He loves us and wants us to get back on board with the mission. How do we do that? Hebrews 12 gives us a great place to start.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2
Jesus simply tells us to get rid of those distractions that are causing us not to be able to run the race he has set for us and to look squarely at him. He is the beginning of our faith. He is the one who completes and perfects it. We can only live life on mission because of the work that is done on the cross. We can only stay on the path that he laid out for us by seeing the amazing life that he offers us through his life, death, and resurrection. He endured the cross for the joy set before him. We can cast aside all of the distractions of this world so that we can stay on mission for the joy that He set before us.