Fighting Distraction in Our Relationship With God

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The chaos of our house on a summer day distracted me in every way. 

My boys trampled through the rooms like jousting hyenas. The crusted breakfast plates sat in the sink, the dryer signaled for me to fold laundry, and my two-year-old kept crying and whining—over nothing. I wanted to scream (or run away).

So, I picked up my phone and scrolled Instagram.

Oh, the beautiful pictures. The sweet sayings. The pep-talk quotes.  But then, the Spirit of God whispered a gentle question: “What are you looking for?

“You, Lord,” I replied in my mind.

“I’m right here,” the Spirit responded within.

Oh. Right.

So, I set down the phone and prayed. My heart settled. Peace and clarity returned.

Sometimes distraction starts to dry up our relationship with God. How can we focus?

Distraction is an ancient struggle

In John 5, Jesus healed a man who couldn’t walk for thirty-eight years. The Jews interrogated Him because He broke a huge cultural rule: He worked (healed) someone on the Sabbath and told that person to pick up his mat and walk.

Mat-carrying on the Sabbath broke the Jewish religious law. Oops.

But Jesus made no mistakes. He made a point: God is at work even on the Sabbath. He sustains the world, provides breath to our lungs—and has the authority to heal on any day of the week. And the mat-carrying thing? So not God’s rule. Religious Jews made that one up.

So, the Jewish rule-keepers interrogated the healed man and Jesus. When Jesus claimed that He is equal to the Father, the Jews cried, “Blasphemy!” (I imagine) And sought to kill Him.

Jesus responded to their craziness with an awesome put-them-in-their-place monologue (read John Chapter 5 for the nitty gritty).

Toward the end of the monologue, Jesus said these words: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40, emphasis mine)

 

Distracted by Expectations


The Jews read all about Moses and the Prophets. They read about what to expect when the Suffering Servant Messiah arrived (see Isaiah 53), but they missed the long-awaited King standing right in front of them because they occupied themselves with religious activity rather than teachable hearts.

Jesus was from a poor family, from a small rural town, and worked as a skilled laborer (carpenter). Could a King come from such a place? Who is this carpenter who roamed the countryside teaching and performing miracles and proclaiming the Kingdom of God and life in His name?

I might have missed Him too.

Shouldn’t the Son of God come from a well-off family and be educated in the rabbinical ways? Definitely not an uneducated man from a small dusty town—right?

No wonder the Jewish religious rule-keepers were distracted from the Messiah right in front of them.

 

Are we distracted from Jesus?


When we are overwhelmed with work. Frustrated with people. Burdened with grief. Worried about opinions of others. Suffering loneliness or sickness—

Where do we turn?

  • Social Media?

  • Shopping?

  • Netflix binge?

  • Our stash of chocolate?

That Summer day, I turned to Instagram. And as beautiful as Johanna Gaines’ new conference room looks with the deep green bookcase and light pink velvet couch—it does not fill my soul with the truth I need as I love the wild cats—I mean kids—in my home.

 

The Distracted Religious Leaders Teach Us 3 Things:


1. Be careful what we look to for life. Netflix is fun. Shopping is too. But only Jesus can bring life. The religious leaders thought studying the Scriptures brought life—but they missed Jesus.

2. Be willing to come to Jesus. The religious leaders were unwilling to come to Jesus.

3. Have a teachable heart. The religious leaders also missed the Messiah because they refused to open their hearts to God’s unexpected ways.


Distraction is an ancient problem that affects our relationship with God.


Reflect

What do you turn to for comfort, peace, or wholeness instead of Jesus? What is one thing you can change this week to help move you in the Jesus-direction?

For me, when I have the urge to check social media, I urge my heart first to ask: What am I looking for? Usually, it’s peace. And I know where that’s found.

 

This post first appeared on SeanaScott.org

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