One of the most challenging things I’ve ever done is aimed to have a passionate thriving relationship with Jesus. This is also the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. What a conundrum. How could something be so satisfying and fulfilling yet be so difficult? Ask any Olympian wearing a gold medal around their neck or any adventurer who saw the summit of Mt. Everest. What they accomplished was perhaps the most difficult thing they ever endeavored to do but the satisfaction of their accomplishments made all their efforts so worth it. This is how I feel when I choose to not have a casual faith but a passionate fiery faith in Jesus.
Everything around me is fighting for my attention. The world and everything in it wants my focus, energy, money and I would dare say ultimately a little piece of who I am. So, I give a little piece of me here and a little piece of me there. I chip a small corner of my heart and put it into this hobby while another piece goes to that show only to chisel a little more off in order to get another follower on social media. Eventually, we present to God our leftovers and call it worship. It’s a sad commitment to the King of Kings who deserves our very best. This reality is a pandemic that has swept much of the American church.
Now the natural next question is, “do I do this?” I’m glad you’re asking the question! It’s a good one to ask. I need to make it clear that there’s nothing wrong with having hobbies, watching shows, being on social media or any other variety of entertainment and social life. Truly there isn’t. In and of themselves those things are not evil. However, when put into the context like I just described, they certainly become distractions. A distracted Believer is an ineffective one.
Let’s look at what Paul says to the church of Colosse:
Colossians 3:2-3 (NLT) Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth. 3 For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God.
We have a choice as to what we set our minds on. It’s silly for me to complain about a poor relationship with God, when my mind is the scatterbrained one. Shattering across a million different things that I think are so important when the Scripture says that His thoughts towards me are more than the sands on the seashore! He’s thinking about us, a lot! His mind is also stayed on us and not as fickle as ours.
Paul assures us of the reality that we’ve died to this life. Our real life is far more exciting. Our spirit gets this, but our flesh typically does not. This is why it’s so hard to get our self-serving flesh to not dominate the passions of the spirit. Hence the dilemma.
Paul also says to the Believers in Rome:
Romans 12:2 (NKJV) And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The world has a way of doing things, but we’re not subject to those ways anymore. We should be transformed by the renewing of our mind. This is essentially repentance. Repentance is the Greek word “metanoia” meaning to change the way one thinks. To have a change of mind. Now, look again at what Paul said, “Don’t be conformed to this world, repent from that! If you will, then you will become the proof of Gods perfect will in the earth!” (The Josiah paraphrased version) That perfect will God desired for us to walk in is elaborated on all throughout Paul’s writings so I would encourage you to dive into what that looks like.
I want you to write out on a piece of paper your top distractions that are keeping you from a passionate and thriving relationship with God. Take this paper and put it somewhere you’ll often see it. In your bathroom by your mirror or on the fridge. Perhaps keep it in the car near your dashboard. Your list may be short or it may be long. Be honest and sincere. God already knows your heart and what distracts it so if you lie, you’re only lying to yourself you won’t be fooling God. Worse yet, nothing will ever change if you cannot be honest with yourself and to God.
Choose any one distraction on your list. I would suggest choosing an easier one to attack first rather than your biggest challenge. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you eradicate this distraction from your life. It may need to be cut out entirely, or just put in its proper place of priority. The Holy Spirit will show you as you invite Him in and as you begin making adjustments. Now, let a little time pass. Revisit this distraction in a weeks time. Is it as distracting to your faith and daily walk with God as if was before? Keep working on it! Don't forget that these distractions are keeping you from the true desire of your heart, Jesus!
Make little adjustments one bit at a time. We don’t need to make massive life altering adjustments that 99% of us will fail to see through to the end. The change may be just too drastic. But minor adjustments over longer periods of time will continually draw you closer to the Lord. When this distraction is no longer a distraction, cross it off the list. Celebrate! Give God glory! Keep drawing closer to Him. He’s with you on the journey. Then set your sights on the next distraction and repeat this process. You’ll be drawing closer to God day by day and actually doing something about the things keeping you from Him.
His grace truly is sufficient for you. You’ll have everything you need with Him coming alongside you in the process. Remember, He wants to be close to you and is beckoning you to Him. It’s up to us to answer the call. The results will be a long lasting, passionate and thriving walk with God. The kind of walk that will change the world. It's so worth it.
- Pastor Josiah Elias