Pastor Kyle McIver
We live in a distracted age. The rise of smartphones, tablets, streaming, and other new technologies have profoundly reshaped many of our habits. So extreme is our distraction that we have new categories for things such as distracted driving - where we see that this addiction is so strong that people aren’t even giving their full attention to the roads while operating a vehicle! This is crazy! The level of distraction today has taken captive one of life’s most precious commodities - our attention.
How many times have you been out at a restaurant and seen an entire family ignoring each other because they’re all on devices? Or witnessed young children trying to get their parent’s attention while they’re staring at their phone? Or experienced the loss of time from looking up to see that you’ve been perusing social media for 45 minutes without even realizing it? I believe that we have a crisis of distraction and an urgent need to recover control of our attention.
Consider the following phrases from the Bible: “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith…” “Look carefully then, how you walk…” “Keep your heart with all vigilance…” “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…” “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” All of these things are essential for us to be healthy, growing Christians. All of these things are necessary for fruitful lives following Jesus. And all of these things require our attention. How can the word of Christ dwell richly in us when we reach for our phones rather than our Bible? How can we continue steadfastly in prayer when all of our spare moments are spent scrolling through social media or sports news? How can we be watchful and carefully keeping our hearts when we’ve lost our capacity to think deeply?
Let’s press this further - how’s your joy in the Lord lately? Are you rejoicing always and giving thanks in all circumstances? If not, why? Have we given ourselves to, as the author of Hebrews says, considering Jesus? When is the last time you thought deeply about his glory, his work, his nature, his character, his great love for you?
Or is our attention elsewhere?
Many things compete for your attention, but very few truly demand it. Jesus is worthy of your attention. Your kids need your attention. Our marriages will suffer if we don’t tend them carefully and pay close attention to our spouse. The quality of our work will be poor if we’re constantly distracted. Our love for neighbors will be small if we are routinely squandering our attention on the lesser things in life.
You see, where your attention is, there will your treasure be. And where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Yes, we can enjoy social media, sports, games, movies, and other forms of entertainment. But in our freedom to enjoy these things and give our attention to them for a time, I fear that we’ve become numb to reality. That we’re looking merely to fix our boredom with the least effort possible. That we’re in danger of entertaining ourselves to death.
So Redeemer, I exhort you - I urge you - don’t squander your attention. Rather, consider Jesus. Give your attention, time and effort to Him. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Look at what is most worthy, most valuable, of greatest need, and give your attention there.