2002 “Be careful with the internet.” “Don’t get in the car with strangers! “2019 “Get on the internet and order a stranger then get
Into their car.”
Wow! This little scenario illustrates, just how fast things are evolving around us. How many of us this morning consider ourselves good “multi-taskers?” … You know, answering e-mails, following and posting on various twitter feeds, texting, posting on Facebook and Instagram, answering phone calls, checking voice messages and taking care of personal business… while we work?
I recall recently hearing some results attributed to a Harvard Business study on people who “multi-task” via electronic media. This study concluded that; …” multitasking with electronic media caused a greater decrease in IQ than smoking pot or missing a night’s sleep.”
The study concluded that this type of effective multitasking is; A MYTH!
There is little doubt that distraction and dispersion of mental energies rob us of focus and depth of thought. Numerous studies conclude, that as we absorb more and more random input, we actually lose the ability to FOCUS!
I see it in my own life, in maddening ways. It happens sometimes while counseling someone about a serious matter or working through a complex decision. It might interrupt the planning of an event or writing a message. It absolutely invades times of prayer and study and steals time once spent in intimate conversation. All too often we are finding that our ability to stay focused is being significantly assaulted by merely hearing
the subtle reminder that a text or e-mail has just arrived! These observations are not meant to detract from the massive benefits derived from the internet and electronic media in any respect! They are massively beneficial to all of us and simplify so many aspects of life in ways we could not have envisioned even 20 years ago. The issue I am addressing is the issue of DISTRACTION. The phrase “drinking from a firehose” illustrates the
problem. So much input is coming at us in our culture, that we struggle to absorb and prioritize the torrent of information washing over us at any given moment.
We are fast becoming a nation of “sound bite
philosophers” being swept along by the latest Twitter war
or viral u-tube video. It’s almost impossible to make a definitive argument in 140 characters, yet the shallow thought processes exhibited by far too many, are contributing significantly to current trends in public opinion and culture. Patient, thoughtful commentary is in danger of being ignored in a world so wholly given to rapid emotion-driven response and micro-attention spans.
I don’t think this is a totally new issue, however. I’m absolutely certain that various distractions have always been an issue to keep us from our most important priorities. For instance, has there ever been a day when fear, anger or the lust for this or that haven’t been major distractions for us? I would say, however, that in addition to the traditional distractions, our new capabilities have put the issue “on steroids” today!
The Book of Philippians is particularly significant, I believe, in helping us keep a proper “focus” in the world we have inherited. The Apostle Paul is writing this letter to the church he founded, and it is warm, informal and reads almost like a diary of his intimate thoughts and practices that enabled him to thrive in an atmosphere of intense struggles and unbelievable pressure. As he writes to the church where he had spent the most time and had probably his closest relationships, he is under house arrest in Rome, awaiting trial and the future “lock-down” imprisonment that would precede his martyrdom.
Let’s key on Chapter 3 to establish and maintain a proper
V. 1… “Rejoice”…”Be calmly happy” or “well-off”. This indicates having an overriding state of mind or “mindset.” This is tied to the condition of being “in the Lord.” The main theme of Philippians is “joy” and given the backdrop of Paul’s circumstances and that of his fellow believers at the time, it was only possible when the Christian could “focus” on their “in Christ” future and the present fruit of “joy!”
Vs. 2-8… Paul gives insight that we should “focus” on God through “in the Spirit” kinds of worship and “having no confidence in the flesh.” This emphasis is all about serving and loving God through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and not trusting legalistic efforts to “qualify” or “earn” status with God!
Vs. 9-21… When we understand that our identity is now “in Him”, we should adopt that “mindset” and live accordingly. Proper “focus“ is really …keeping the main thing the main thing” and benefits us in three major ways…
#1 V.10 …gives us Vision…” focus for general pursuits”. Experiencing the power of God in our everyday lives!
#2 Vs. 12-14 …gives us Goals… Here we see “measurable priorities” and “increased capabilities.” Paul instructs us to let go of the past and to “focus” on the “God-filled” future that belongs to us as believers both in this life and the next. Paul’s constant testimony of joy proved this is possible regardless of the circumstances that might be encountered!
#3 Vs. 15-16 …establishes Priorities in the “mindset” of the “mature.” It also promises ongoing
assistance if we have a lingering “focus” that is contrary. This passage also promises Holy Spirit activity to confirm our “focus” (and lifestyle) to His!
Vs. 17-21 Wraps up this call to “focus” with a contrast of lifestyles. One focuses on the consumables of life…” the mind set on earthly things” that will ultimately result in destruction. But he virtually begs the Philippians (and us as well) to “imitate” his “focus” of eternal reward and
transformation as a citizen of Heaven!