Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Distraction and The Squirrel Everyone Loves!

Distraction. Sometimes we need it. Most of the time we do not. We've all heard the jokes: "I was ADD before it was...oh look a squirrel." And sure, who hasn't spent a few days of their lives looking at endless YouTube videos of other people doing things? Which, by the way, have you seen the one where that couple dances to open their wedding? Or the one that talks about James "just got dunked on..."

But, I digress...

Distraction has become something of a national fad that is becoming more and more of a national nightmare. Texting and driving is killing way too many people and yet, every day we see someone driving distracted, or checking Facebook during a movie, or a family sitting together at dinner not talking because everyone has their phone out.

Seriously, when did we lose the ability to focus in America?

Apparently, this has been seen on the horizon for some time. Check out this comic strip from 1906 that predicts what will happen if a wireless telegraph machine is ever invented.
Replace those telegraph machines with high powered personal computers that connect you to everything imaginable and well, we see what it is doing.

But, there is a deeper issue at work here that really is dangerous and needs to be addressed. As we lose our ability to focus we are also losing our ability to think deeply and critically about the issues that truly matter today. In our churches, pastors are commonly called on to be "more practical" with shorter sermons. Gone are the days of true theological discourse that could be "applied" to all areas of life because of its breathtaking depth. (See Jonathan Edwards if you would like an example.) No sir. Now the sermon is seen as the infomercial between schizophrenic worship sets that are complete with smoke and lights.

Churches are not the only group affected. Take our wonderful politicians in Washington and at the State level. Gone are the days of true debate where those running for office were allowed to question each other and had to give real, substantive answers. Nope, just stick to talking points, recycle old cliches and count on the public tuning you out after 30 seconds because some celebrity is drunk and acting the fool again.

Proverbs 4:25 says "Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you."

One of the wisest men who ever lived, Solomon, warned us against allowing ourselves to be distracted. His instruction was to stay focused on our path, our destination, and our purpose. Solomon's dad David wrote in Psalm 119:147-148 "I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may MEDITATE on your promises."

Rising early, staying awake at night and meditation on God's words are all images of prolonged focus. In an age of everything "right now" and even "Your Best Life Now" God's ways are calling us to slow down, focus and think about his promises and words. In short, we are to keep ourselves focused on the truth and refuse to be distracted from it.

If the ancient wisdom was to focus and think deeply, then the modern folly is to be distracted by everything and yet see nothing. If we want to stop being taken advantage of by slick politicians, catchy salespeople, and ill trained, theologically incompetent church leaders, it is time for us to stop worrying so much about who got voted off of Idol and start focusing on truth until it finds its way into our lives, our families and our communities.

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