Tuesday October 30 2018

PULSE 30/10/18

Distraction Can Cost You Everything

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1).

One of Jesus’s most repeated sayings in the Gospels is some version of this: “If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear” (Mark 4:23). If we’re wise, we’ll listen carefully to whatever Jesus says, especially what he says repeatedly. And in this case, listening happens to be precisely what he’s telling us to do. 

Everything hangs on how well you hear what God is saying — what we commonly call the word of God. And hearing God well requires your close attention. Are you paying attention?

The key qualifier is if we’re paying attention. Because, as Jesus said, if we’re not paying attention to what God says, we will miss what God is doing. That’s a costly distraction.

By God’s grace, we do have an advantage over Jesus’s original hearers: we have God’s authoritative, written word. In fact, never have so many Christians had so much access to God’s word as we do today.

But we must not be lulled into thinking that so much access to and familiarity with Jesus’s teaching means we don’t face the same danger as those first-century listeners. We may have a clearer view of the kingdom than the crowds who heard Jesus’s parables, but we are as endangered by dull hearing as anyone has ever been (Hebrews 5:11).

Never have Christians possessed so much wealth as Western Christians today, which presents many temptations to us and threatens to destroy us (1 Timothy 6:9–10). And never have Christians been barraged with so many and so varied distractions as we are. Overly familiar, overly affluent, and overly distracted is a recipe for the kind of dull hearing that often manifests as being able to explain what Jesus means without actually doing what he says.

It is a false comfort to be able to accurately teach a text if we do not obey it, if functionally our fleshly anxieties and desires govern us, not Jesus’s commands and promises. This can be a more deceptive form of dull hearing than merely not listening or forgetting.

Pay Much Closer Attention:

“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Hebrews 2:1). If we’re not paying attention, we may not even realise we’re drifting. We can look around and see lots of other distracted, dull Christians who talk Jesus’s talk without walking Jesus’s walk, figure it must be normal, and assume we’re doing just fine. The only way we know if we’re paying close attention to what Jesus says, in the way that he means it, is if we are really doing what he says (John 14:15).