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?

Chasing Rabbits

I’ve spent my day chasing rabbits.  I don’t know where I heard the term first, but it describes my day.  Unfortunately, it describes a lot of my days.  I’ll be diligently working on a translation for a sermon or bible study, when all of a sudden I start chasing down another word or topic of study that has absolutely no relevance to my sermon, the church, or anything to do with life at all. “Oh look, a rabbit…”

Well, I’m back!  Chased another rabbit, had absolutely nothing to with anything at all, but the chase was worth it. Can’t even remember what it was. Had something to do with the Greek root of the word for “submit”.   As my youth pastor keeps reminding me, I’m such a geek.

So I chase rabbits, and in the end, I’m filled with a wide variety of useless and trivial information that really bears no meaning on my greater existence.  Chase too many rabbits and you get really tired, but it seems I can answer a lot of the questions on Jeopardy.  There’s always that!

I had a verse that was sort of my stabilizing rock when I was in seminary; I still fall back on it when I find that I am getting more and more distracted.  There is a tendency in seminary to get caught up in all the new and provocative trends or concepts in Biblical study and theology.  I would observe classmates of mine riding each and every wave that came along in their studies, liberation theology, redaction criticism, natural theology, prosperity gospel… You name it, they were like the waves of sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

The verse that was my bedrock in seminary and continues to be so today was Philippians 3:10-11 “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  In all I do, in all my studies and my distractions, in all my work and play, what brings me back, what drives me, is my desire, my longing, my hope, to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, that I might become more and more like him in every way.

May this be your desire, your foundation.  In the meantime, have fun chasing rabbits!