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Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a growing problem in our world. Maybe it's a woman on her way to work in the morning putting on her makeup. Maybe it's a guy juggling a burrito and a turn. Often it's one of seemingly thousands of people who are reading and responding to texts as they hurtle down the highway at 70 mph. It is everywhere. It might even be you. It might even be me.

I find that this is one of Satan's favorite ploys. It doesn't have to be a grand scheme, some horrible evil. It might be an innocuous, seemingly harmless, even a good thing. A musician may set out to use his or her talents to worship God. Lots of people notice. The applause is addictive. Soon he or she is performing rather than worshiping and not even aware of it, distracted by the accolades. A pastor may feel called to the ministry and start to minister. Overcome with the pressures, the work, and the discouraging numbers, he may opt to resign, distracted by worldly standards of measurements. A church may start out to preach and teach the Word and worship God, find itself inundated with people (along with more income, etc.), and get distracted from the message.

Distraction is insidious. We head out with all the right motives and ideas and find ourselves missing the mark (which, if you're paying attention, is the meaning of the biblical word, "sin"). It's like the parable of the mountaineers. A group of intrepid climbers set out to master a particularly difficult peak. They worked and climbed and fought their way forward. Then they came to a chasm. They puzzled for some time, devised a clever method of bridging it, and headed on. At the next one they had less trouble because of their former success. They stopped after the third one, opened a "Bridging Shop" to sell the necessary items and teach others to bridge chasms as they do their climbing. Distracted by their success, they never made it to the top. Like looking at the finger pointing to the moon.

This is why we read,
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. (Heb 12:1-2)
Weights and sins encumber and distract. Don't go there. Set them aside. Instead, look to Jesus. Don't get distracted.

Paul wrote about what an excellent Jew he was. He didn't stop there.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (Phil 3:7-11)
That's avoiding distraction. That's assigning worldly gain, be it name or fame, money or romance, power or anything else, as loss. Neither applause nor dissent count. What really matters is knowing Christ. The aim is to be found in Him, to have the righteousness that comes from Christ, imputed by faith. The real value in life is not found in makeup, burritos, or answered texts. It isn't in finding yourself praised, feeling yourself inadequate, or gathering large numbers of followers. It is in knowing Christ, including both the power of His resurrection and sharing in His suffering. It is in becoming like Him -- His life and His death. Don't get distracted. As in driving, it can be fatal.

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