Life in the information age is fast paced and filled with distractions. We are constantly notified of new and exciting information. And all of it demands our immediate attention. Distractions can be annoying, like a leaf blower right outside the office window. Or they can be welcome, like a message from a loved one. If I make this paragraph much longer, chances are that something will distract you before you finish reading it. 🙂
Here is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines distraction:
1: the act of distracting or the state of being distracted; especially : mental confusion
2: something that distracts : an object that directs one’s attention away from something else
This sounds very familiar indeed! But being distracted is not a recent invention. Lets see what happened when Jesus visited Martha and Mary.
Luke 10:38-42 (WEBBE): 38As they went on their way, he entered into a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39She had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she came up to him, and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister left me to serve alone? Ask her therefore to help me.”
41Jesus answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, soaking up every word out of His mouth. Just imagine for a moment what it would have been like to be in same room as Jesus himself. Hearing first hand from the Son of God. What an amazing experience! And Mary was making the most of every moment.
Martha was also there, but she was distracted. What she was busy doing was good – she was serving Him, probably preparing a meal and making sure that her guest is comfortable and fetching Him something to drink. But all of her bustling around meant that she was not able to receive Jesus’ words to the fullest extent that she could have.
The Greek word for distracted here is περισπάω (perispaō). According to Thayer’s Greek Definitions it means:
1) to draw around, to draw away, distract
2a) to be driven about mentally, to be distracted
2b) to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing
A distraction draws you away from something. The leaf blower and the message from a loved one draws you away for a moment from reading that report or writing that e-mail. It is a minor distraction – it doesn’t have a major impact on your life.
But all too often worldly things distract us from God. Being “anxious and troubled about many things” has a major impact on our lives. It keeps us from experiencing the rest that Jesus has for us.
Matthew 11:28-30 (WEBBE): 28“Come to me, all you who labour and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
It is, however, not just worry that can distract us from God. Remember what Jesus said in the parable of the sower, about the seed that falls between the thorns:
Mark 4:18-19 (WEBBE): 18Others are those who are sown amongst the thorns. These are those who have heard the word, 19and the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
Relationship with God should be our number one priority. Yes, we should do the good works that flow out of that relationship. We have to work to earn money to survive. And there are many good things to enjoy in life. But nothing else should ever have a higher priority than relationship with God!