Distracted, Divided, Dependent

Someone wants you distracted.

They want you to “Netflix and chill”. They want you to “Power your dreams”. They want you to “Live in your world, play in ours.” They want you to do all of these things and a million others. Distracted people disengage from reality. Distracted people focus on themselves first. Distracted people don’t pay attention. They are too busy entertaining themselves in all of these different ways. Every spare moment filled with distraction. This is a topic addressed in Chapter 4 of my book, Seeing God and throughout God’s Word.

Someone wants you to never have a moment alone with your thoughts. They would like for you to move from one diversion to the next, never disengaging until our screen finally goes dark beside our beds late at night. In the past, authors often wrote about dystopian nightmares in which people were forced to endure a type of digital programming by restraining you in a chair and forcing your eyes to stay open. In the modern age, we volunteer to receive our programming and jack into the system willingly. This barrage keeps us permanently distracted, just as someone, might specifically desire.

God doesn’t desire for us to be distracted. God desires for us to “Be still and know that He is God.” Ps. 46:10 This requires rest, peace, an absence of distraction. Psalm 127:2 says, “It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Eating the bread of anxious toil could describe a lot of days in modern life. This isn’t what God wants for us. It isn’t God’s best.

God doesn’t want us to be programmed by distractions. He desires for us to rest our minds in the Truth. In Phil. 4:8, Paul writes, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” These thoughts don’t give us anxious toil, but a release from anxiety and toil.

1 Peter 1:13 says, “Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.” God wants our minds to be sober and alert, not numb. Going through life disengaged from reality and distracted from meaning and purpose is not the life that God makes available to His followers. God cares more for you than the companies and advertising campaigns that are fighting to keep you distracted.

Someone wants you divided

Someone wants you angry. They want you suspicious. They want you to only see other people through categories. They want you to think of those around you as something less than a magnificent creation in the image of God. They want you to put your group ahead of others. They want you to think the worst of everyone. They don’t want you talking to people, they want you talking about people. They want you divided.

A divided people are easier to keep distracted. They are easier to control. They are easier to keep in their place. They are easier to influence. Division turns against lifelong friends, colleagues and family members. It ends family gatherings. It causes people to leave churches, community groups and clubs. It keeps you in your home. It keeps you in front of your computer, phone or TV. It makes you move away from connecting with the people in your town, city or neighborhood. It turns most personal interactions negative. It cuts off communication. It robs our interactions of joy. It raises our life’s overall levels of anger, anxiety and depression and builds walls between us that are difficult to tear down. Someone wants you divided.

God wants us in community. He desires us to live as the relational beings He created us to be. “It is not good for man to be alone…” Gen. 2:18 God desires us to:

  • Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Gal. 6:2
  • walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another” 1 John 1:7
  • encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.” 1 Thess. 5:14
  • As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Pro. 27:17
  • Live in harmony with one another” Rom. 12:16
  • Love each other as I have loved you” John 15:12

God wants us to practice these things and dozens more, as we come together in unity, not in division. God’s desire is for us to experience the beauty of community as we practice these things together. Most of all, He desires the greatest division to be healed, the one between God and man. “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” 2 Cor. 5:18 NLT

God is about reconciliation, not division and He doesn’t desire for us to live in this world as those that pursue division, gossip, slander, jealousy, envy and other things that would create greater division and anger among us. God’s life for us and our communities is one of coming together in Him, not in tearing apart. Someone wants you to embrace division, but it isn’t God. God has given all of us His followers a ministry of reconciliation.

Someone wants you dependent

Someone wants you looking to them to meet all your needs. They want you further in debt. They want you to be unable to take care of yourself. They want you to put your hopes in them. They want you to be weak. They want to be the only answer to your problems. They want to give you just enough to keep you coming back for more. They want power. They want control over you. They want you to sacrifice your free will for their support. Someone wants you to give up. They want you to think that they provide an easier way, a better way, a way that they can provide and you can’t possibly find on your own.

Someone else wants you to put all your hope in yourself, in your own capabilities. They want you to give up on everyone else. They want you isolated. They want you at the center of everything. They want you not to trust anyone. They want you arrogant. They want you to turn your back, to head for your shelter. They want you to ignore the needs of everyone else.

God promises freedom in the Truth. Freedom through dependence on Him. Ultimate self-confidence because all of our confidence comes from God.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:4-5

Freedom in Christ means freedom from sin and death. It means freedom to live in His grace for as long as we walk this earth. It means complete independence from both the power and consequences of sin and all the destruction that brings to our life and relationships. Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Who is someone?

Someone wants you burdened. They want you enslaved. They want you to give up your whole life to a life of distraction, division, and dependence. They want you living according to something much, much less than everything that God offers us. Who is someone?

And you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you previously walked according to the ways of this world, according to the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now working in the disobedient. We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also.” Ephesians 2:1-3

Someone is the world. The world would have you worship itself. It would have you give all power to its policies and structures. It would have you give all your time to frivolities and emptiness. It would have you give everything without even thinking about it.

Someone is the “ruler of the power of the air”. It is the enemy of God, begging you to join him in a thousand different ways. He is the king of lies and deception in all its forms. He knows our weaknesses and is committed to using them against us.

Someone is the flesh. The man/woman in the mirror. The selfish instinct that lives out the worst of who we are at the expense of everyone else. It is prison that we build ourselves.

But God…

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! He also raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might display the immeasurable riches of his grace through his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do.” Ephesians 2:4-10

But then there is the rest of the story. Someone does want the worst for all of us, but God wants His best and we have here His perfect promise to each of us. We are:

  • Made alive
  • Saved by grace
  • Raised up to the heavens
  • Receivers of immeasurable spiritual riches of grace and kindness
  • God’s workmanship
  • Created for good works

All of life can be diverted from the truth if we aren’t careful. The world is filled with everything that would pull us away from Him. But God has provided a better way. He doesn’t promise it will be easy. He doesn’t promise an absence of all hardship or heartache, but He does promise life, salvation, grace, kindness and a plan and purpose that we can give our lives to that will rescue us from the distractions, heal the divisions and free us from deadly dependence.

Right now, you may be distracted, divided or dependent, or you may be completely focused on those who are distracting you, trying to divide you or make you dependent. Whether you know it or not this does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. If you are a believer, God has set you free from such things. Read the passage above and see who God says you really are. Abandon the path of the world, the flesh and the enemy and learn to live in the Truth of immeasurable riches of God’s grace.

 

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