Focus – The Subtle Sin
by Lt. Amanda Reardon –
I used to feel kind of guilty because, as a Christian in America, I have it “easy.” Unlike many first-century Christians, I have never experienced persecution. Even when sharing my faith with non-Christians, I’ve seldom been mocked or insulted–let alone subjected to physical endangerment. But does that necessarily mean that it is easy to be a Christian today? Is it easy to be an on-fire, sold-out, single-minded Christian? I don’t believe so.
In my opinion. Satan is effectively wielding a weapon which threatens to deteriorate Christianity in our society. Many Christians across America have a faith that lies in varying stages of decay because of the effectiveness of this weapon. It isn’t something obvious like pornography or alcoholism that affects each of us, though those are also in Satan’s arsenal. What I believe to be Satan’s “biggest gun” now is simply this: distraction.
We live in a world full of wonderful, glossy, entertaining things that demand our attention. These things blur our focus. When we become preoccupied with television, or concern ourselves unnecessarily with the fashions we wear, or spend too much time chatting with strangers on the Internet, Christianity blends into the patchwork, becoming just a part of our lives rather than the centerpiece. Television, fashion, the Internet – these things are not bad, in and of themselves. That’s the beauty of it, from Satan’s point of view. But when they replace Scripture meditation, church attendance, and prayer, they begin to endanger our spiritual lives.
Consider this: If you were a Christian back in Paul’s day who had to worry about losing your life for your faith, you’d probably do one of two things: you’d either abandon the faith completely or you’d immerse yourself in it. Assuming you didn’t abandon it, you’d want to be around other Christians as much as possible. You’d want to constantly reassure yourself and the other believers by repeating the words of Jesus. You’d cling to the Psalms and other writings for comfort. You could not have a half-way faith if your life was on the line.
But such is not our situation, and so we do not find ourselves consumed by our Christianity. Falsely perceiving that there is so little at stake, we let ourselves be pulled and drawn by the many things this world has to offer. Many Christians are depriving themselves of a full, rich relationship with Christ because they have a full, rich relationship with the remote control. (Ouch!)
Allow me to confess my own guilt. One recent evening, for example, I was going to do my devotions before bed (when I usually do them). I knew I was in trouble though, because I watched TV until I was overtired. Meaningful devotions were not going to be possible. I wanted to assuage my guilt by at least reading a few Scriptures. But as I reached for my Bible, something else on the nightstand caught my eye: the issue of Newsweek I’d been dying to read. Now, Newsweek is a perfectly legitimate magazine. But the moment I picked it up instead of my Bible, it became an effective distraction. I had lost a battle.
I want to emphasize that we lovers of the Lord know that Bible study and prayer are not a drudgery. We know that some of the sweetest times of our lives have been while we were engaged in these holy activities. We also know that there is room in our lives for entertainment and exploration of other worthy things the world has to offer. We need to keep our focus clear, our priorities plain. If, when I reach the end of my life, I have spent more hours reading magazines than God’s Word, and more hours watching TV than ministering to people, what truly was the focus of my life?
“I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your Word.” Psalm 119:15, 16 (NRSV)