Mission comes from a root word meaning “sent,” a “vocation or calling of a religious organization, especially a Christian one, to go out into the world and spread its faith.” It encompasses the call of Christians to evangelism and discipleship (Matthew 28:16-20), loving one another (John 15:12-17), and caring for the least of us (Matthew 25:31-40).
Missions require focus, even more so when given by God.
As we unpack this Journey Study, we will consider three areas of introspection:
-What conditions distract us from our mission?
-What practical tips are available to combat a distracted heart and mind?
-How does the Lord promise to restore our focus on Him and the mission?
Distractions entail shifting our attention from something of greater importance to something of lesser importance. The most dangerous distraction is idolatry, when we treasure something more than God. This prideful sin breeds frustration and heartache, and often looks like consuming aspects in life (job, relationships, achievement, or hobbies) which become more important than our relationship with God.
Idolatry is a heart issue rooted in pride and begetting self-centeredness, greed, and a love of possession. Left unchecked, idolatry quickly distances us from God, but when we turn to Him in repentance we find in God’s gracious embrace, “where sin multiplied, grace multiplied even more[.]” (Romans 5:20) In His forgiveness and through the work of His Spirit within us, we are freed from idolatry. “Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in the newness of life.” (Romans 6:4)
Busyness also distracts us, as we are often tasked with child care, household duties, and job duties. A biblical example of busyness is found in Luke 10:38-42. As sisters Mary and Martha hosted Jesus and His disciples in their home, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet listening, while Martha became distracted by preparations.
Be honest, sometimes we resemble Martha, rushing around to accomplish our own mission while missing out on learning from Jesus through the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, which equips us to fulfill His mission! To combat this, we can ask, “What is the real distraction? What do our hearts desire? What do our choices communicate about our priorities?” Like Mary, we can intentionally slow down and refocus our hearts on Christ.
Finally, consider the distraction of suffering.
Even as we continue to pray for God to intervene in hard scenarios, we can become more focused on our circumstances than on God. We might expect God to fix our problems because we’ve tried to follow Him.
When suffering becomes great, getting angry with God becomes easy, wondering if He is even still listening. Theologian Tim Keller, in Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, said, “Suffering is unbearable if you aren’t certain that God is for you and with you.” Suffering can be a huge distraction, keeping Christ’s mission, in our suffering, far from our thoughts.
I certainly have been there, but like the apostle and preacher Peter, I came to understand God alone is my Refuge and Savior. “Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
Suffering changes us; it’s the impetus forcing us to move in one direction or the other. Either we can choose rebellion, anger, and walking away from faith, or submission to the goodness and love of the Lord, which increases our faith and hope. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:17, “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
We can be encouraged because “since Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same understanding—because the one who suffers in the flesh is finished with sin— in order to live the remaining time in the flesh no longer for human desires, but for God’s will.” (1 Peter 4:1-2)
Distractions can cause us to lose sight of God, His Word, and His plan.
Distractions can cause us to lose focus on our mission.
Yet, there are some practical tips that can help us combat a distracted heart and mind.
First, look forward. Proverbs 4:25-27 tells us to fix our gaze straight ahead, not looking to the left or right. We can identify distractions that pull our gaze away from our mission, and seek God’s help in reclaiming our focus.
Secondly, press on. The time will come when it’s hard to pursue “the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) Yet God will sustain us through our difficulties. (Isaiah 46:4)
Last and most important, keep our eyes on Jesus.
“Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
Though we can become distracted and drawn away from the mission, our Lord is patient, merciful and gracious. He never becomes faint or weary (Isaiah 40:28); He inclines unto us when we draw near to Him. When we acknowledge our sins, submit to God, and humble ourselves before the Lord, the Bible says He will exalt us. (James 4:4-10)
Sisters, I urge us to pray in earnest as we seek God through His Word, so we can intentionally become focused, productive, mission-minded Christians.
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