Defeating distraction


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In addition to now being the most anxious nation in the world, we are surely one of the most distracted nations as well. Obviously, there is much in our culture that can keep us fragmented in our attention and cluttered in our minds. For example, through media, we are bombarded with incessant messages, trivial information and advertisements (10,000 a day). Talk about the potential for distraction and mental clutter!

Albert Einstein was once asked, “How many feet are there in a mile?” To the utter astonishment of the student who asked the question, Einstein replied, “I don’t know.” Was the great professor joking? Surely, Einstein would know a simple fact that every school child is required to memorize. But Einstein wasn’t joking. When the student pressed for an explanation of this apparent gap in Einstein’s knowledge, the professor declared, “I make it a rule not to clutter my mind with simple information that I can find in a book in five minutes.” Albert Einstein was not interested in trivial data. His passion was to explore the deep things of the universe and, as a result, he became a pivotal figure in modern world history.

Distraction, of course, is a challenge for everyone. For the Christian, however, there is an understanding of the Holy Spirit’s work in providing guidance and producing in us self-control. As the reformer Martin Luther so aptly put it, “You may not be able to keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” But how? The Bible answers that question in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” This means that we either set our minds on the things of God or the things of man, either on the things of the flesh or the things of the Spirit (See also Romans 8:5).

So, the real question in this age of diversion is, where will you regularly set your mind? We can set our minds – or we can leave them alone – but even if left alone, they will go somewhere by default! As Pastor Tim Keller has said, “The true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention.” This reality clearly shows just how much we should heed the words of the Bible, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Truly, this passion to know Christ in his fullness gives us a single-mindedness that transcends the mental, emotional and relational clutter that is so evident in our day.

Seek the Lord. Rejoice in his Word. Be amazed at his grace.