Sunday, September 3, 2017

Distractions

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2


I have been highly distracted this week- all good things like watching soccer games, seeing friends, checking Facebook and Instagram, getting my tennis racket restrung, picking out new paint and living room furniture - but each distraction has drawn my focus away from eternal things to focus on temporal things. 

I realize I am blessed that these are all good things that fill my mind since I know so many people are struggling and overwhelmed by actual and metaphorical floodwaters.   They are dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster, putting together a life after a divorce or a loss of a child, grappling with debilitating health issues, trying to make sense of our country's politics, and managing their responsibilities while supporting friends and family members through heartbreaks and hard times.  
  
Each of us respond differently to good things and bad things.  In hard and difficult struggles, my natural response is to start praying and seek God but in good times, I take a spiritual break and let insignificant things take my attention away from the most important One.  I have other friends who do such a good job of praising God and depending on Him in the good times but when hard and challenging situations arise, they become Superman or Wonder Woman and feel they have to fix all the problems in the world with their own strength, knowledge and determination.  

As I have been pondering how to balance letting go of these distractions but still being involved with my life and the people around me- this brief passage from Mark 8:29-33 caught my eye. "And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” 30And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Wow!   I can't imagine being Peter- after realizing that Jesus was the Christ- to have Jesus say, "Get behind me Satan, you are setting your mind on the things of man."   I spent some time looking at the Greek meanings of the words in this sentence and what struck me was the idea in "Get behind me".  Get used in this verse is more often translated "go."  Jesus used it as a command after he healed someone to go home or go to the temple.  "Behind" was more often used as "after."   In other words- "get behind" means "Go to your proper place behind Jesus."  It doesn't mean the problem went away but that Jesus became first and foremost. 

With all the good and bad things in our lives, it is so easy to get distracted. If we elevate anything in our lives, whether it is good things like redecorating or bad things like sickness over Jesus, we are going to struggle with being overwhelmed.  Survival mode and artificial deadlines create a sense of urgency that drowns out the peace of God.   The certainty that God is in control, protecting us and leading us gets damaged as we struggle with wave after wave of distraction. To overcome these challenges, we have to be intentional and set our minds first and foremost on Jesus. 


The benefits of setting our minds on the Jesus and not the things of this world results in peace. The phrase "set your mind" is also translated "be of one mind." As  2 Corinthians 13:11 encourages us "Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you."    

Jesus is the source of peace in every situation.  He promised us, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27


 Have you been overwhelmed with distractions?  How do you put them in their proper place?






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