Ten Distractions to Watch Out For!
by Pastor Gene
This week we’re thinking about things that can keep us from experiencing the “newness of life” which the Apostle Paul says belongs to us as those who have died, been buried and are now risen with Christ (Romans 6:1-4).
Of course, since any sin causes us to break fellowship with God (1 John 1:6), tempting believers to sin is always one of the enemy’s go-to strategies. But there are other distractions too!
We, however, are not ignorant of his schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11b).
Today, I’m reposting a blog by Colton Jansen that I think will serve as a catalyst for thinking about some of the things that may be standing between us and a God who longs to walk in fellowship with us down every road! The blog is geared toward younger Christians – it’s folksy rather than academic – but it has plenty for us all to consider. I’ve edited down a bit for the sake of space.
I have not included questions at the end of it, because each of these ‘distractions’ are their own self-contained points of discussion. Which of these is most likely to bite you? Did he miss any?
10 Things that Can Distract us from God
by Colton Jansen
Isn’t it hard to keep focused on God? I have tried so hard throughout my life to stay focused on Him. I so often say ‘this time I won’t fail,’ but at one point or another, something always clips me from behind … Why?!
Well, I think it has to do with what we allow into our lives … Not all of these things are “bad” in their nature, in fact, a lot aren’t, but they become a problem when we allow them to distract us from looking at, and to, God. You know those things I’m talking about. They can be anything from a job, car, or movie, to fantasy football, Xbox Live, a magazine, or even church. There are so many things in this world that fight for our time and, when we allow them to take too much, well, we lose our focus. The answer is not necessarily to cut these distractions out entirely (though in some cases it is), but … to keep them in check.
In the following paragraphs, I have listed 10 common things that can interfere with our walk with God.
I’m sure you all could have guessed this one would be on this list. We all need it to live ‘in this world,’ but we must not be owned by it if we are to be ‘not of this world.’ Money itself is not an interference in our walk with God, the love of money is. I think [Matthew 6:19-34] sums this up quite nicely …
In a nut shell, if we trust God, He will take care of us. That doesn’t mean we should quit our jobs, or not earn money. We just need to realize that God is more important, and is far more capable of taking care of us than we are. Money might be the blood flow of the world, but it is not the blood flow of those who are in Jesus. Faith is.
Another big one [is] the media. This is probably one of the biggest distractions for me personally right now. I mean, just the other night, I realized I hadn’t spent much time praying this week. But, instead of going and praying, I said to myself, ‘I’ll do it later because the Lakers are playing and Lost comes on in an hour.’
It is so easy to get caught up in the media. And when I say media, I’m referring to the Internet, TV, movies, music, video games, newspapers, magazines – all of it …
Everywhere we turn, some sort of media is right in our face. And the worst part: it’s littered with filth. Almost every commercial on TV, and every advertisement on the Internet is trying to convince us that we are missing something, and that they are the ones who can fill our need.
Our young girls and women are bombarded by media [telling them] how they should look, feel, and act. Movies, music, TV shows – they are horrible influences on us because they subliminally tell us how to live, what’s right and wrong, etc.
And video games … ah, video games … give me the right one on the right week, and I won’t spend a free second with God (sad, but true) …
The key to overcoming the media is to be wise in what we watch, read, play, etc. – and in how much time we spend with it.
We should always be willing to give it up. (And, quite honestly, some of the things we indulge in in the media, we need to give up.)
Church, or religion. Believe it or not, these can [interfere] in our walk with God. Church does not do this intentionally, but we can easily let it hinder our relationship with God. Why? [Because] it can be easy to pursue church and beliefs about God, yet forget to pursue God Himself. It is so easy to go to church to, well, go to church. But the real reason we should go is to refuel for our week by coming together with fellow believers to worship and meditate on God.
Also … [some] people have the idea that we need to pretend to be perfect at church. That if we show our weaknesses and struggles, we’ll become outcasts. And since so many people parade around in this stained-glass masquerade, if someone does reveal his or her weaknesses, they’re … looked down upon.
This is the opposite of what church is supposed to be. Church is really the body of believers. We are supposed to help each other, hold each other accountable, pray for each other, and love one another!
To keep church from becoming a distraction [to your walk with] God, make sure you are pursuing God before pursuing “beliefs” about Him, or church/religion. We need to get past religion and into relationship with God. It starts with you! Love your brothers and sisters, be open to people, and DO NOT CONDEMN others when they fail!
Every kind of relationship falls into this category; friends, parents, siblings, spouses, girl/boyfriends, children, co-workers, bosses, etc. We can allow any of these relationships to distract us from God.
Relationships are our connection with the world, and it is in our nature to have them. But when we allow any one of these relationships to become more important to us than God, well, they become a distraction.
God calls us to love one another (1 John 3:11). So, when we do, we’re acting in obedience to God. But don’t forget about God in the process! We need to make sure we are giving God ample time each day …
The relationships most in danger of becoming a distraction [are] a boyfriend, girlfriend or spouse. These relationships demand the most time, and that’s why it’s extremely important that they be God-centered. If they aren’t, we’ll see our walk with Him spiral downward.[And remember,] in a dating relationship, don’t compromise your morals!
This is another common thing I allow myself to get distracted by.
Spending time with God should be in our routine! Far too often we squeeze God in when we have some down time. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things we have to do – like work, eat, sleep, etc. (I often find sleep getting in the way! I mean, if I didn’t spend that extra hour sleeping in, I would have a whole hour with nothing to do but seek God!)
So, make sure that spending time with God is a part of your routine. And also, make sure you are willing to abort your routine, and let God have complete control.
- Our Work
Work, work, work. What a distraction this can be! And I’m not just referring to a job. I mean everything – from a job, to leading worship, or a bible study, or anything! I love the story of Martha and Mary (see Luke 10:38-42).
It is easy to get caught up in our duties, but it’s most important that we do what we do entirely for the Lord. We can have great motives in our work, but sometimes we let the work become more important than listening to Jesus.
- Our Hobbies
I love hobbies! I have a huge range of them, from playing guitar, and singing, to video games, sports, and numerous others. The dangerous thing about them is they can consume a lot of time.
A great way to keep them in check is to do them with God in mind! Like worshiping God with our music.
Also, we can play video games or sports, etc. with a mind toward developing relationships with others. Having hobbies is a great way to get yourself into the world to be an influence …
- Desiring a blessing from God, more than desiring God Himself
I have to be honest: this is easy to fall into, at least for me. It can be so easy to pray for a specific thing over and over again, but forget to spend time with God.
Remember, it’s “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33), not ‘seek first all these other things.’
- Our Pastors
Our Pastors! What!? What’s this doing on the list!?
Well, I don’t mean your pastor exactly (at least I hope not). I’m referring to becoming dependent upon your pastor. This can be a deadly interference in our walk with God.
It is not our pastor’s responsibility to feed us all we need to be spiritually healthy; that’s our responsibility. A lot of people fall into the habit of only giving God Sunday morning. This would be like only eating once a week! If we did this, we would be horribly malnourished! Sadly, that’s the case for many spiritually.
Ourselves. Us. The last one on the list of distractions, and possibly the most likely to distract us.
We are, by nature, sinful, and, if we live by our [old] nature, we will not get close to God. That is why we need to die to ourselves and live in Christ (Romans 6:11). But, no matter what we do, there will be a constant battle within us between spirit and flesh (Romans 7:15-21).
That is why we need to allow God to search our heart constantly and purify it (Psalm 139:23-24).
The first step to overcoming ourselves is being aware.
So, there we have it. A list of 10 common things that can distract us from God. It’s a constant struggle to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, and to not become distracted by the things of this world. But if we are aware of the things that can interfere with our walk with God, we can begin to take the necessary actions to prevent them.
Remember, “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
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