It’s so easy to get distracted. Most of us have heard the story, If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff. The very distractible Moose will ask for a muffin and then want jam on it, which will make him want more and more muffins until you run out of muffins. Then you’ll have to go to the store, which will remind him that he needs to borrow a sweater, the sweater needs repaired so he asks for thread, the thread makes him think about the puppets his grandmother used to make, so he’ll ask for socks to make puppets… the story goes on and on, the moose getting further and further from his mission until it ends up full circle. It’s a cute little story with a true message. It’s easy to get distracted.
Christians are a lot like that moose. We start out our Christian walk with one mission. We’ve found forgiveness of sins through Jesus, we’ve begun a relationship with Him, and from there our goal is to grow in Christ. Ask any new believer what they want to do now that they’re saved and they’ll tell you in one way or another that they want to get to know God better. It’s an awesome mission! It’s God’s desire for us to know Him more!
But like that silly moose… we get distracted. We take our eyes off the goal. We get busy going from one thing to the next and before we realize it we’re off making sock puppets and painting scenery for the puppet show. Each day something new pops up that reminds us of something else we want to do or need to see or accomplish… not that these things are bad in and of themselves. But sometimes those things take our eyes off the goal.
Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (NASB) We have an awesome call as believers. We have an opportunity to live our lives with a mission. That mission is to know God and to share that knowledge with others. But when we get our eyes off that goal we fall prey to distractions that can take us way off course.
The thing is, these distractions don’t just happen at once. Christians who have their eyes on Jesus don’t typically just turn around and start having affairs, getting involved in witchcraft, viewing pornography, cheating on their taxes, etc. Those distractions start with the small things. Small compromises that we allow into our lives can take us further and further from our goal the more distracted we become. Sometimes, we aren’t even aware that the thing that we are allowing into our lives is a compromise. It’s a slow fade. Distractions.
Years ago I read a short story about how television viewing adopted this form of compromise. First the television shows portrayed good, wholesome families who went to church and prayed together. The average American viewer was okay with this. Then they dropped church and prayer and just stayed good and wholesome. American viewers chose to let the absence of God and prayer in the show pass because it still depicted Biblical morality. Then television began to drop the good and wholesome by introducing sinful practices and making them look humorous. Americans figured it was okay to laugh at these sinful choices because the humor showed how foolish these sinful practices were. Eventually, those sinful practices were made to look fun. American viewers didn’t see the transition… it was slow. Now, it is not uncommon for a television show to depict a man and women meeting at a bar, going home together to have sex, and shrugging it off as if it is normal. Bit by bit the American viewer has compromised. If the first show on television had been one of the shows we have today, filled with sex, witchcraft, and swearing, American viewers would have been appalled.
We go to church on Sunday expecting good and wholesome from the pulpit. What if our pastor chose to take clips from the sexual encounters, sexual innuendos, witchcraft, sorcery, magic, or swearing, many Christians view on television or read in books, and show that on a Sunday morning? Most Christians would be appalled. “What kind of church is this? What in the world is the pastor showing us?” But how many Christians are watching those very things all through the week? How is it any different?
Christians have begun to compartmentalize their morality. It’s okay to read stories that glorify witchcraft, spells, sexual encounters and swear words if it’s a secular book. But at church, it has to be good and pure. Shouldn’t we hunger for good and pure every day? How is Sunday any different? Would you sit and watch a movie where the couple engages in pre-marital sex with Jesus sitting right beside you in physical form? If the hero of our favorite novel is a self-proclaimed sorcerer practicing witchcraft, it’s time to consider whether our interest in literature may have become a distraction from the goal. What we watch and read does affect our thoughts and our values.
Hebrews 12:1-2 says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (ESV)
We’ve gotten distracted and sin has entangled us. We can’t run the Christian life when we’re entangling ourselves in immorality. Jesus is our goal. We’ve gone full circle. It’s time to get back to the goal and escape the distractions.