One Thing

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
1 Corinthians 2:2

Some days it is really hard to focus. We live in a very distracting world.

This is not altogether a bad thing. We can get distracted by wonder and beauty, and those are God’s blessings. I have a beautiful view of a crabapple tree out my office window, a home to robins and turtledoves, shelter for squirrels and rabbits alike. I can lose track of time taking in this beauty. I have a playlist of podcasts to which I want to listen, all edifying Biblical teaching that will do my soul good. These are wonderful things, but they can suck up my time, my attention, and keep me from what needs to be done.

There are, at the same time, many unhealthy distractions: games on the phone, YouTube channels that lead one to another, television shows that draw you in and make you want to binge the entire season.

There are so many voices clamoring for our attention today, it is so difficult to stay focused. I read an article which says that we’re actually re-wiring our brains with modern technology – with devastating effect. We’re accustomed now to a constant barrage of media input, but we never really absorb any of it. We’ve become well-informed idiots.

Even writing this article today, I’ve become acutely aware of how distracted I am. I’ve got so many things running through my mind, so many irons in the fire, so many conversations/texts I’m trying to maintain… so much to say that nothing was coming out. I sat staring at a blank page for 45 minutes. It’s not writers block, but rather the opposite. So much is running through the mind that I can’t even find a place to begin. I’ve started about 20 different posts, all to end up going nowhere, or morphing into something completely incoherent. Again, well-informed idiocy.

I know this isn’t what Paul was talking about when he wrote above verse in his letter to the Corinthians – maybe it was. The Corinthians were really taken in by the philosophers and orators of the day. They were impressed with impressive speakers, swayed by dazzling intellect. But Paul reminded them that when he was among them, he came not with great eloquence or intellect, but only knowing Jesus Christ and him crucified.

There were, and are, tremendous depths of theological profundity into which we may plunge ourselves as we grow in our knowledge and love of God. There are far reaching political, cultural, and even economic ramifications of our faith that must be explored. All of these things are worthy of pursuing, but none of them take precedence over the one thing: knowing Christ and him crucified.

Here’s thread of consciousness: Knowing Christ and him crucified: Christ, the 2nd person of the godhead, fully God, full of glory, wonder, power and majesty; one with God from all eternity; who, in accordance with God’s perfect and sovereign plan, did come to us, being born of a virgin, taking on the form of man though never ceasing to be God, fully God – fully man, he suffered in our place, lived in complete obedience to the Father, perfectly keeping His righteous law; but, in demonstrating the love of God, died upon the cross to take the full punishment of our sins, my sins, and was raised on the third day for the justification of all who put their faith in him.

Christ and Him crucified. Once I focus on this, all other things seem to lose their attraction. Dwelling on the beauty of who He is, the wonder of what He has done takes preeminence, drowns out all the lesser, insignificant, and trivial distractions.

Christ and Him crucified. It makes me want to delete a few apps. Makes me want to put my phone on “Do Not Disturb.” Makes me want to “be still and know.”

Christ and Him crucified. This is my one thing.

Is He yours?

The Improvement of Trouble

I was reading again from the Memoirs of Robert Murray McCheyne today when I came across this letter he wrote to a member of his congregation.  The letter is entitled, To A Parishioner On A Sick-Bed: How cares and troubles sanctify.  I know there are many in my own congregation who are facing illness and physical struggles, may this letter strengthen and comfort you in the goodness of God.

All God’s doings are wonderful. It is, indeed, amazing how He makes use of affliction to make us feel his love more. Your house is, I trust, in some measure like that house in Bethany of which it is said, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus.” They had different degrees of grace. One had more faith, and another more love, still Jesus loved them all. Martha was more inclined to be worldly than Mary, yet Jesus loved them both. It is a happy house when Jesus loves all that dwell in it. Surely it is next door to heaven.

The message of Martha and Mary to Christ (John 11:3) teaches you to carry all your temporal as well as your spiritual troubles to his feet. Leave them there. Carry one another’s case to Jesus. Is it not a wonderful grace in God to have given you peace in Christ, before laying you down on your long sick-bed? It would have been a wearisome lie if you had been an enemy to God, and then it would have been over hell. Do you feel Rom. 5:3 to be true in your experience? You cannot love trouble for its own sake; bitter must always be bitter, and pain must always be pain. God knows you cannot love trouble. Yet for the blessings that it brings, He can make you pray for it. Does trouble work patience in you? Does it lead you to cling closer to the Lord Jesus—to hide deeper in the rock? Does it make you “be still and know that He is God?” Does it make you lie passive in his hand, and know no will but his? Thus does patience work experience—an experimental acquaintance with Jesus. Does it bring you a fuller taste of his sweetness, so that you know whom you have believed? And does this experience give you a further hope of glory—an other anchor cast within the veil? And does this hope give you a heart that cannot be ashamed, because convinced that God has loved you, and will love you to the end? Ah! then you have got the improvement of trouble, if it has led you thus. Pray for me still, that I may get the good of all God’s dealings with me. Lean all on Jesus. Pray for a time of the pouring out of God’s Spirit, that many more may be saved. I hope the Lord’s work is not done in this place yet.—Ever your affectionate pastor, etc

Excerpt from: Bonar, Andrew, Memoir and Remains of the Reverend Robert Murray McCheyne – (Logos electronic edition).