Called to Focus - Simplify your Life
Jesus had a calling specifically for His disciples. He gave them very precise, almost labored instructions on their missionary objectives: “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and do not go into any town of the Samaritans; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:5-6 AMP).
I have puzzled over this teaching for many years. It seems strange that Jesus told the disciples not to spread the gospel among the Gentiles. Were they less important?
I have come to understand that this is a key teaching with regards to following the call of Jesus in our lives, and for one powerful reason: It deals with the restrictions on our callings. Jesus used the one word we hate more than most: no. But we will never mature in our callings until we have learned to say it ourselves.
Telling the disciples not to go to the Gentiles or Samaritans was not for racially prejudiced reasons. Jesus wanted to be sure that the disciples would not be distracted from their task, which was to minister specifically to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” He then reinforced this singular objective by insisting that they not take any extras: “no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff” (v. 10 NIV). He set clear objectives and removed the clutter that could distract. Priorities are key to calling.
Clutter is a big issue in modern living, and as Christians, we need to deal with it regularly. There is just too much stuff. There’s always stuff on our smartphones, stuff in our inboxes, stuff clogging up our attics, our lives. “Simplify your life, and your calling will be clearer,” a wise friend once said to me.
I am a terrible packer. I have a “what if ” bag about which my family teases me mercilessly. It almost always leads to excess baggage charges. It has every imaginable extra that might be required for the journey. I do not travel lightly—sometimes a pair of skiing gloves makes its way on safari in Africa! I had a conversation with the adventurer Bear Grylls about packing before he climbed Everest. Bear’s simple comment was that, if you are climbing Everest, you don’t need unnecessary clutter and weight. You need to stay focused. You have to declutter.
So what about us? Like the disciples, we don’t need unnecessary clutter. And typically for us, clutter equals distractions. There are many times when we have to say no, however hard it is, if we are to avoid diluting God’s call. As The Message translation puts it: “All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions” (1 Corinthians 7:35).
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