“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” (Colossians 3:1-3)
The last two weeks have been very heavy for many people. If you’ve been following the news at all, there’s no shortage of unsettling events occurring not only across the United States, but around the world.
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to directly communicate with various people from various races and religions regarding both the pandemic and the George Floyd incident, and the thing that I’ve found interesting is that no two people have the exact same views. Since I tend to look at the world and its events through my own Christian lens, the thing that’s been even more intriguing is that the Christians I’ve spoken to often view them in completely different or even conflicting ways. And these are people who, as far as what I know of them, genuinely love Jesus and have a desire to put Him first in their lives.
I’ve been inundated by literally dozens and dozens of links to videos, articles, books, websites, etc. by many well-intentioned brothers and sisters in the faith over the last two weeks, and I have no doubt that their hearts are for Christ and for His church. While I appreciate everyone’s passion, the mere fact that most of them don’t share the same opinions or theories or even acknowledge the same “facts” as one another, quickly tells me that in the grand scheme of things, those things aren’t as important as we may think. In the end, those things will waste away and only Christ’s truth will remain.
It’s been a blessing to hear all of the different perspectives, because I’ve learned things that I honestly would have never looked into myself. But most importantly, it’s been an answered prayer for me because day after day and conversation after conversation, God has only affirmed to me each time that we as Christians need to keep the main thing, the main thing– and that’s keeping our focus on Jesus.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
If you’re a believer, there’s a high likelihood that you’ve heard this verse before. Though it’s a popular verse, it’s one that’s easily overlooked because we tend to put our attention on the things that we can only see with our eyes or fully understand with our minds. In other words, we get distracted away from the spiritual realm where the battle truly is, by the events that happen in the natural realm. And to focus on the wrong things my friends, is Satan’s strategy.
Take a look at what the Bible says about getting too caught up in the world:
- Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
- Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (1 John 2:15)
- Fix our attention on 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. (Hebrews 12:2)
- If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:1-2)
You may not want to hear this right now, but if you claim to be a Christian, I implore you to be more obsessed with Him than you are with the world events. That certainly doesn’t mean to ignore what’s going on in your community, but rather to view all things in light of the gospel, knowing that the victory already belongs to Christ.
We are not to obsess over things that are outside of our control, and we are not to be afraid of what may happen due to other people’s or group’s agendas, political stances, world views, or even theories. I just wrote a couple of days ago about how God did NOT give us a spirit of fear. But when our minds are completely fixated on the aforementioned things, I believe it’s because we are afraid of what’s going to happen if they continue on or if they come to pass. We feel a desperate need to alert people or sway people to our mindset on very politically-charged topics, because we’re afraid that the country or world will be led to destruction if people aren’t “woke”. We must be careful, for the pursuit of these things can become an idol in itself.
For Christians, it can become a real problem. That means we’re forgetting that God is sovereign and in control. We’re forgetting that there is NOTHING in this world that happens that is out of His knowledge, rule, or authority. We’re forgetting that even Satan himself cannot act without God’s permission (Psalm 103:19) and he can only do what God allows him to do. We’re forgetting that Christ has already assured us the victory, and that in Christ our hearts and minds can be at PEACE, because Christ has overcome the world! (John 16:33)
Folks, I understand it’s hard to let go of things and rest in His peace during events that are are very personal and emotionally-charged. For myself, after I heard about George Floyd, I was very upset on behalf of my dear friends and family who are black. In speaking with them, they were literally in tears about how helpless and massively hurt they feel right now, and my heart continues to grieve with them. Others may feel defensive or dismissive because what ails them through all of this is not mutual, and they have a right to feel that way as well. But ultimately our emotions and our circumstances should not negate God’s promises of peace and hope that He gives us. As Christians, these times should cause us to rely and focus on Him even more.
What it boils down to, is that we need to do the things that are both constructive and God-honoring at the same time, and those are the things that we should spend our time and energy on. As I’ve intimated in all of my posts over these past couple of weeks, our focus as Christians should be on the following:
- Loving God – Make Jesus your focus. Spend more time reading His Word and praying than you do watching YouTube videos and reading articles and scrolling Facebook or Instagram. Spend more time praising and thanking Him than you do grumbling, whining, or complaining about what’s going on. Ask God to remove your fear of man and increase your faith. Repent of your sins, fully trust you are reconciled with God, and live every day as a new creation in Christ.
- Loving Others – Ask God how He wants you to share His love with others. Don’t pretend everything’s perfect in the world and stay silent. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the vulnerable and powerless (Isaiah 1:16-17), but do it all by the leading of His Spirit and in alignment with His Word. There are a whole bunch of practical things you can do that don’t oppose God’s will, including something as simple as educating yourself and voting. Acknowledge that people are hurting and do what you can to love on them, support them, and stand with them; and most importantly, let them know that God loves them and Jesus can save them.
- Sharing the Gospel – This is the hope we have as Christians. This is our spiritual life blood. This is the reason we even have purpose on this earth. If we spend more time telling others about what’s going on in the world than we do telling them about the gospel, then our priorities are upside down. If you’re communicating with an unbeliever, remember that you’ve been commissioned by God to be a witness for Christ to them (Mat. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8). Don’t miss the rich opportunities that God is presenting through these current tribulations.
It’s okay to be passionate about something, but make sure your passion is directed towards exalting Christ through it. Can you have a balance of both? I think so, but do it prayerfully, and not merely out of passion or emotion or what you may think is right. Remember that even our hearts are deceitful (Jer. 17:9). The more you study His Word and spend time in prayer about those topics, my hunch is that any feeling of negativity, pessimism, or fear will dissipate as His Spirit replaces those feelings with His fruit– love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
I’ll leave you with an analogy in the church that may help you understand where I’m coming from. Elders in the church have the responsibility of teaching God’s Word. Can you imagine if a church’s Elders had a hyper-focus on all of the non-essential biblical gray areas that Christian theologians over the course of centuries, have never (and will never) agree on? Churches have split over those things, believers have been led astray because of those things, and relationships have been severed over those things. That’s why the main thing, the essentials of our faith, always has to be the focus. Similarly, the way we respond to the events of today should be found on the essentials of how God clearly calls us to live and react, which is by loving God, loving others, and being witnesses for Christ. These are the things that indisputably bring Him glory.
Brother and sister, I know the world is crazy right now, but remember who you are and whose you are. Let your identity be in Christ, and not in any other stance or position you may hold. Make the main thing, the main thing, and watch how your focus will change when you do.