We love distractions. Sometimes they help get our minds off of our problems. Executives measure their value to a company by the size and location of their offices – the bigger the better, the higher the better, and corner offices are the tops! The windows from high up, corner offices can provide amazing views. When work is intense, it’s good to take a few minutes and look at the beauty of God’s creation. On the other hand, we get distracted by some things that take us away from our work completely. One friend talked about how much longer his phone battery lasted since he got a watch. He used to check the time on his phone. When he checked the time on his phone, he would see that he had some texts to respond to. Then, he saw that a good friend had posted on Facebook and he wanted to see that. He might reply to that post, or notice that 13 other new posts had gone online since he last checked, so all of them need to be checked out. Then, he would look at the time again and it was ten o fifteen minutes later. Now, he takes five seconds to glance at his watch without any of the distractions.
Good things can distract from more important things. It’s easy to get so distracted with work that we spend extra time there, and forget that families need attention. As Paul dealt with the Corinthians, he warned them not to get distracted by anything in their quest to proclaim the gospel. “What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
The Corinthian Church had a lot of problems. One of them seemed to be that they were losing focus. They were letting other things get in the way of proclaiming the gospel instead of using them as ways to proclaim the love and grace of Jesus. “Oh, I can’t be involved in God’s work now, I just got married.” “My loss is too great, I can’t show faith in my time of mourning.” “I’m so excited and happy! Why bring in that downer message that all have sinned right now?” “I can’t make it to church tomorrow, I’m going to be shining my brand-new chariot and grooming the horses.” Those may or may not have been the kinds of things being said, but it’s typical of the kinds of distractions that take us away from sharing the love of Jesus with others. The reminder from Paul is that we are called to keep the most important things important. The Corinthians had found “shiny things” to distract them from the most important thing and rather than proclaiming the gospel, knowing that time was short, they focused on the wrong things.
My wife and I work to proclaim the gospel together. Our marriage hasn’t distracted us from telling others about Jesus, it has allowed us to work together in new and different ways. The circumstances and the needs of life become opportunities to share the story of Jesus. Standing in line at a coffee shop discussing coffee can become an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus. If Jesus has made a difference in our lives, it should be apparent to others. It’s easy to get distracted by all the things that are available in society today. We can talk about sports, about kids – or better yet – grandkids, about cars or jobs or hundreds of other things, but we should never get so distracted by all those “shiny things” that we forget to use them as ways to share the love of God with others. For those in society, all roads lead to Rome. For Christians, all roads should lead to the Cross.
O Lord, help me to keep first things first and let that which is most important lead my heart in working with others.