In November 2018, eight people walked into a jewelry store not too far from where we live. Two men and six women used the art of distraction to lure the associates away from each other while one of them stole items from a locked cabinet. When it was all said and done, the group walked out of the store with nearly $100,000 worth of jewelry before anyone knew what had happened. The entire process took a mere 20 minutes.
Why do I bring that up, you might ask? I’m glad you asked!
I believe we are experiencing one of the most significant periods of distraction in modern history. It’s happening right in front of us, and we’re not cluing in. Like the jewelry store attendant(s), we are overwhelmed with the number of people and situations that are vying for our attention. We are inundated with news, ideas, emotions, ideologies, and data. Social media, politics, economics, and conspiracy occupy our minds at an alarming rate. Each day we become more polarized in our viewpoints about what is true and what is false. Many of us have been thrown into a state of confusion and have become completely oblivious to what is actually happening.
“So, Ray, you think you have all the answers? Tell us then what is actually happening.”
My response to that question is simple: time. Time is actually happening. It’s going by, day by day. We can’t wait to get to the next day, the next month, the next year. We can’t wait for this period in our lives to be over.
But here’s the thing: you’ll never get this time back. God has put you here and now for a purpose. He has presented us with a massive opportunity for the love of Christ to be shown and for the Gospel (good news) to be shared. Now is not the time to get caught up in the cares and controversies of the world; now is the time to be wise and use the time that God’s given us. We are unbelievably distracted, and we need to snap out of it.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)
As it relates to Ephesians 5, here are three practical ways you can make the best use of your time and understand the will of the Lord.
1. Live peaceably with all.
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:17-18 (ESV)
Now you might say, “But I try and live peaceably with everyone, but some people are just so ignorant that I have to say something.”
No, you don’t. Listen, I know you think that the entire world needs to hear your opinion on politics, COVID, masks, school and business openings, conspiracy theories, and everything controversial. But the truth of the matter is, they don’t. In fact, I would argue that in most cases, it does more damage than good. If you’re going to burn a bridge with someone, do you really want that to be the bridge you set on fire? Would it not be more beneficial to spend your energy on encouraging people, helping them, uplifting them, supporting them?
The next time you think about sharing an opinion piece on social media, maybe just ask the question, “Lord, does what I’m about to post/share/comment on bring glory to your name and allow me to live peaceably with others?” If the answer to that question is “No” (or you’re unsure), consider stepping away from the keyboard.
Join me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A soldier refrains from entangling himself in civilian affairs, in order to please the one who enlisted him. – 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (ESV)
Let us remind ourselves who our Commander and Chief is.
2. Love your neighbor as yourself.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV)
This one is pretty self-explanatory, although you wouldn’t think it these days. I’ve heard the phrase, “I don’t have to agree with someone to love them,” and while that is true, shouldn’t love at least be demonstrated in a way that is actually loving? Publicly shaming other brothers and sisters on social media because of their views on controversial subjects (COVID views, politics, etc.) is a terrible way to show Christ’s love.
We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. – 1 John 4:19-21 (NIV)
You might say, “But I don’t hate them. I just want to publicly correct them on their viewpoints.” I might argue that in your heart of hearts, you simply want others who agree with your viewpoint to like your post and add fuel to your fire, somehow making you feel more justified in your position. I know that may sound harsh, but we are all human, and we all selfishly long for others to affirm us.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless — James 1:26 (ESV)
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. – 1 Corinthians 10:24 (ESV)
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 (ESV)
Getting beyond the realm of social media, there are so many ways that we can be loving our neighbors right now. There are many people who are lonely, anxious, and fearful. Show love through words of encouragement, offer to help out, or even just take the time to have a conversation. People are longing to see the love of Jesus displayed through His people. Be that person!
Death and life are in the power of the tongue. – Proverbs 18:21a (ESV)
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12 (ESV)
3. Share the good news of Jesus.
Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious thing that we could be doing right now with our time: sharing the good news of Jesus with others! It’s virtually impossible to do this if you’re too distracted by the cares and controversies of the world.
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16 (ESV)
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” – Luke 10:2 (ESV)
The harvest is so plentiful right now, it’s ludicrous. The enemy knows this and will use every distraction possible to move you away from harvesting. He’ll even make you think you’re doing a good thing by wasting all of your time arguing for seemingly righteous things.
I implore you: wake up from this great distraction! If you need to turn off your social media accounts or your news feeds, do it! Breathe.
And after you’ve taken a breath, breathe life into others.
For anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”— Ephesians 5:14 (ESV)