Temptations to Lose Our Focus
A life that is rooted and grounded in the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:17) reveals the relevance of the indwelling Lord to every relationship and circumstance. But there are many ways in which we can lose our focus and slip back into a compartmentalized, rather than integrated, lifestyle. When this happens, we revert to the sacred-secular dichotomy and learn to tolerate significant discrepancies between the two.
The allure of materialism commonly tempts us to abandon an integrated focus. Like the Lilliputians who fastened the sleeping Gulliver to the ground by scores of threads, the quest for scores of material goods as symbols of success can root us to the world. None of them, taken by itself, would hold us down, but a multiplicity of materialistic tentacles exerts power over us and demands our time and energy. Part of the subtlety of materialism is that it is a moving target, and few people, even those who are quite wealthy, ever suppose they have enough, let alone more than enough. The quest for wealth lures us away from time with God and with important relationships. Instead of using wealth and serving people, we are increasingly tempted to serve wealth and use people.
Another temptation away from an integrated life in Christ is the false belief that we have a better understanding and desire for what is best for us than God does. When we entertain this lie, we commit ourselves to various attempts to find happiness apart from God and His purposes. But Scripture teaches us that God can never grant us true joy and peace apart from Himself, because He is the Source of these gifts, and He alone.
Some people fail to integrate their lives around Christ because they lack spiritual passion and are unconvinced that obedience to Him in all things is worthwhile. Like the people to whom Malachi addressed his prophetic oracle, they suffer from spiritual sloth and indifference. If we fail to hone a sense of divine calling in this world, we can slip into spiritual lethargy, boredom, despondency, and burnout.
Yet another way of losing our focus on Jesus is the desire for honor in the sight of others. If we are more concerned with the opinions of people than with pleasing God, it will be virtually impossible for us to center our lives on the lordship of Christ. People often spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need to impress people they don’t even like. When we are in bondage to the opinions of others, we will seek to manipulate them and our whole approach to living in this world will become distorted. We slip into artificiality and pretense when we seek the esteem of the world, and we forget God’s estimate of who we are and why we are here. The audience to whom we play will eventually shape the content of our belief: “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?” (John 5:44). We can only be freed from the burden of pride and pretense when we become childlike once again and accept ourselves for who God says we are in Christ.
Biblical wisdom encourages us to inculcate complete and unflinching trust in the infinite and personal God who created us, redeemed us, cares for us, and gives us a purpose, a future, and a hope. One of the underlying issues in Scripture is whether we will pursue our own plans or God’s plans; whether we will attempt to control our lives and welfare or look to our heavenly Father for every good thing; whether we will trust our labor or trust our Lord. Trusting the Lord is active, not passive; it means that we do our work with diligence and excellence as for Him rather than for men (Colossians 3:23-24) and leave the results in His hands. Only when we let go of ownership of results will be walking by faith and not by sight.
Taken from Ken Boa’s Handbook to Spiritual Growth.