You have seen it before, the driver reading the paper as they fly down the highway, the person texting they almost cause an accident in the parking lot, the person so focused on talking to their cell phone as they blow through a red light. Two weeks ago in the USA Today they published research from Transportation officials that said “5,870 people were killed and 515,000 were injured last year in crashes where at least one form of driver distraction was reported. Driver distraction was involved in 16% of all fatal crashes in 2008.” Driving distracted is clearly a dangerous activity. To remove our focus from the road and place it onto any other thing places our safety at risk. So why would we knowingly place ourselves at risk?
In Matthew 14:22-32 Jesus walks on water out to the disciples, who are in a boat in the middle of a storm. As they see Jesus, Peter the apostle challenges him saying, if that is really you then ask me to come out on the water to you. Jesus doesn’t miss a beat and just says, Come. We pick it up at verse 29, “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”” (Matthew 14:29-30, NIV) Peter began his walk on water by looking at Jesus. The moment he became distracted, the moment his eyes shifted from Jesus to the waves, Peter almost drowns.
I know how easily we can get distracted. Is being distracted in our faith just as hazardous? God gives these instructions to Joshua in Joshua 1:7 (NIV), “Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” God’s instructions to Joshua were simply put, don’t be distracted from me, and you will be fine. If you get distracted through, all bets are off, and it will likely not turn out well.
We know these scenarios well; you head to the grocery store to get three items for dinner that night. Ten minutes later you have Doritos, Little Debbie’s, gummy bears, and cannot remember what three things you needed for dinner. A ministry team sets out to plan a family night, and spends half their meeting fighting about what color paper the flier should be printed on. We spend so much of the worship service critiquing what’s on the screen that we don’t worship God. A friend recently shared with me that their church has become distracted by money. Every event is a fundraiser; every moment spent building a relationship with someone is hoping that they give money.
Distractions are dangerous, because so often we don’t even see the distractions happen. Little by little we veer from the path we started on, and find ourselves in a place that we never aimed to land at. At church we begin with a vision and mission, our call from God, and our focus for all that we do. Quickly though we become distracted. We lose track of the vision in the midst of meetings, paper colors, bulletins, meetings, votes, paperwork, and fights over why ones pet topic is more important than all others. If we are not careful we begin to forget the vision all together, forget what God has called us to do, and end up making the color of the paper for the flier, the screens in worship, money or other things the focus of all that we do. At the end of the day though, we have one vision, one focus, one thing that we have to keep our eyes on at all costs and work not to be distracted from – that is – Jesus. So as the wind and waves come, as the distraction mount, let us not forget that all that we do is for the betterment of our church, and the glory of God.
- Are there any areas of places in your life that you are distracted right now? What is the cost of being distracted?
- What are some things that tend to distract you (TV, details, cell phone, shiny things, etc)?
- What would you do if you realized what was going on was a distraction to something more important? What might be some challenges?