Distraction & Intention

We live in curious times. While our present day has been called the Age of Information, it may also be called the Age of Distraction.

Life today is filled with distraction. Between our business, our gadgets, our entertainment, and the overall demands and enticements of our day, we can be overrun by it all – so much so that we forget what life is all about.

Even as I pen these words on the computer, I need to stay disciplined in order to avoid email, Facebook, and the internet – all available at a click of a button.

Distraction affects many areas of our lives, including the area of our witness. In fact, distraction may be a powerful tool in the hands of the enemy in keeping us from focusing time, prayer, and energy sharing the love of God in word and deed.

Henry David Thoreau was well-known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings. In this seminal work he stated: ‘Our life is frittered away by detail… simplify, simplify.’ And this…coming from a man who lived in the 19th Century!

One can only imagine Thoreau’s commentary upon our 21st Century technological surroundings if he were alive today.

Distraction – it certainly can cause us to lose sight of the main thing in life. And what is that main thing? Relationships!

For our relationship with God and others should be a top priority. Jesus reminds of us of that simple, yet profound, relational priority:

“‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39)

In light of these words of our Lord, what does loving God and others practically look like in our witness? And more specifically, how do we become less distracted and more intentional as witnesses for Jesus?

May I suggest 3 points to consider in combating distraction and being more intentional in our witness:

1. Have compassion for the lost

As we seek after the heart of God, Jesus is our example of compassion:

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36)

The Lord recognized both the physical and spiritual needs of people, and met their need. Notice He was ‘moved with compassion.’ When you and I see lost humanity, is our heart moved?

Contemporary Christian artist Brandon Heath articulates well a desire to see people with Godly compassion in his song ‘Give Me Your Eyes’:

Give me Your eyes for just one second
Give me Your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me Your love for humanity

Godly compassion should move us to action.

2.  Pray evangelistically

Jesus’ compassion for people beckons Him to exhort the disciples to first begin praying evangelistically:

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38).

Effective evangelism starts on the knees. For without the Lord, we ‘can do nothing’ (John 15:5), and ‘unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain’ (Psalm 127:1). That’s why Jesus instructs them to pray just before He sends them out in Matthew 10. I’ve mentioned kingdompraying.com in previous posts, but I again commend it to you, as it’s a powerful resource in praying evangelistically.

Incredibly, you and I are an answer to this 2000 year-old prayer, a prayer the Church continues to pray. Because we are not only part of that harvest, we are also the laborers – as God’s Kingdom building program called the ‘Great Commission’ (Matthew 28:18-20) marches on!

Evangelistic prayer is powerful and it is essential. Yet, it must be intentional. And intentional prayer should lead us to intentional action.

3.  Actively Engage Others

Immediately following an exhortation to evangelistic prayer in Matthew 9:38, Jesus calls the disciples to Himself (Matthew 10:1) and sends them out:

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give (Matthew 10:5-8).

The operative word here is ‘go!’ Evangelism, the one thing we can’t do in heaven, requires intentionality followed by action. What does going look like for you? I don’t know. But I do know that if we have the faith to pray evangelistically with intention, the intention to go, the One we follow will guide us in the way we should go.

The question is – Will you ask Him to lead you evangelistically and then follow Him in faith?

To be intentional and available in spending time and developing relationships with those outside the faith is important, to be sure. At the same time, it means that we spend that time wisely, as the Apostle Paul notes in Colossians 4:5:

‘Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.’

As I pen these words, I’m convicted that I need to pray more in this way as I spend time with those in my sphere of influence who’ve not yet met the Savior: “Lord Jesus, please help me to walk in wisdom toward those in my life who are ‘outside,’ redeeming the time.” Perhaps you feel compelled to also pray in this way.

In reading these word, I applaud you in the Lord. For in so doing, you have momentarily set any other distractions aside and are exhibiting evangelistic intentionality!

To become less distracted and more intentional regarding our witness – this is pleasing to the Lord and a blessing to others. In sum, this is growth in loving God and others.

Therefore – SEE compassionately, PRAY evangelistically, GO faithfully! SIMPLIFY, SIMPLIFY!

Lord Jesus, please help be less distracted and more intentional in my witness. Help me to see people as you see people – with compassion. And may that compassion lead me to pray evangelistically and go faithfully as You lead – for Your glory and for the building of Your Kingdom. Amen.