Have you ever told your kids to do some chore or another, but they get distracted along the way? Likewise, have you ever done this yourself, wondering what it was you meant to do before you got distracted? We sometimes joke that we may suffer from an attention deficit disorder, but, in our Christian lives, we might catch ourselves suffering from spiritual-ADHD. We may have the best of intentions, but the various cares, influences, and distractions of this world pull us away from our mission as Christians.
In Luke 2:49, Jesus asks His earthly parents if they are not aware of his focus – that He must be about His father’s business. His ministry is not something that is haphazard. It is one that is planned and purposeful. It is done with the help of others around Him, and His ministry is fulfilled with great inconvenience and pain to Jesus Himself.
Focused On Our Father’s Business
In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells His disciples to go and make more disciples from other nations. This is not something that happens on accident, nor does it come easily. This is a mission that takes planning and purpose. Jesus says, in Luke 19:10, that His mission is to seek out and save the lost. This is in the context of Zacchaeus who needs to make corrections in his life, and Jesus is setting an example to those around Him who need to change their hearts. Nothing accidental or coincidental is involved here. Jesus is prepared to complete His mission, knowing where and how to look. I Timothy 2:2 encourages us to entrust the gospel with others who will continue the cycle. Passage after passage reminds us to be active in our ministry. We cannot be distracted.
God expects us to grow, both spiritually and in numbers. God’s mission to us, however, is not to recruit members from other congregations. It happens, but this is not true church growth. When we gain members in this way, our effort should be to let them feel at home and put them to work. Our main source of growth, though, should be converting the lost. For this to be accomplished, each Christian needs to be involved. We cannot remain inactive and expect those who need the gospel to accidentally appear in our midst. Jesus’ focus is on the lost, and we should be working to maintain the same focus, not being distracted by what we think we can’t do.
To keep our focus, we have to build one another up. Jude 20, Ephesians 4:12, I Thessalonians 5:11 and 14, and many other verses stress the importance of encouraging one another. God expects us to be evangelistic, but He also expects to build each other up. When we actively work to keep each other focused on our goal, then it becomes easier for each of us to stay on the road to Jesus.
Working With Purpose
Our work as Christians does not come easily, not will it happen on accident. I may meet with discouragement and frustration, but I should be putting planning and effort into my work to help me overcome these obstacles. Remember, Jesus faced discouragement. He wept over the lost. He wept over the sate of His people. Still, He pressed on because His focus was on the Lord and the work set before Him. He planned to work for the purpose set before Him.
He brought in others to help Him, reaching out to others for their cooperation and commitment. His followers came from various locations and backgrounds, but they all worked together with one focus set before them, each one inviting others to come and share in the Lord’s work. Acts 6 shows disciples pulling together to help needy widows. Acts 8 records Peter redirecting Simon as a stumbling new convert. Acts 15 has Christians meeting with the elders in Jerusalem to scripturally work out a doctrinal dispute. Growth can produce problems, but willing cooperation helps us through these.
The Christians of the first century brought services into their homes. They changed their personal budgets. Jesus said He had no home in which to lay His head. Countless examples gave up much or all to follow Christ, putting away worldly distractions to give themselves to the Lord. Our society spoils us with instant gratification, but we might be more satisfied if we nurture patience and persistence in our lives.
Our spiritual mission will have periods of success. It will have periods of difficulty. Jesus gives us an example of patience and focus, and we should be emulating that example. The world may be pulling at our attention, but our purpose should be centered on God, encouraging one another, and inviting others to join us.
lesson by Tim Smelser