To focus is to direct one’s attention or concentrate on something. The word in itself brings a thought of a person struggling to keep his/her eyes fixed on something yet around him/her there are so many distractions seeking his/her attention as well.
The world around us is naturally attention grabbing. At all times it will seek to divert us from the sole attention of our lives as people called after the name of the Lord- the worship and love of God. And He replied to him, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect). This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. (Matthew 22:37-38) The bible tells us to lay aside every weight (distraction) and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we run our race. He is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2) “He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:18). By rights, He should be our focus.
Hebrews 2 lists some of the things that Christ has done or is doing for us: He shared our humanity (verse 14), He breaks the power of the devil (verse 14), He frees us (verse 15)-You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free (John 8:32) whom the son sets free is free indeed (vs 36), the power of the holy spirit that we have received through Christ sets us free from all sin and death (Rom 8:2) He is our “merciful and faithful high priest” (verse 17), He suffered for us (verse 18), and He helps those who are tempted in this world (verse 18). Because of all this, Hebrews 3:1, says, “Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.”
In Mathew 14:25-30, Peter could only walk on water as long as he kept his eyes fixed on Jesus. When he looked aside and saw the waves and the wind and began to doubt, then he began to sink. Focus on Christ alone is enough to keep us going. We have to stop worrying about our needs and circumstances and fix our eyes on Him. Now all glory to Him who is able to do infinitely more than we can think or ask, according to the mighty power at work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)
What are some of the distractions that come our way?
- We’re human, and we tend to be very self-focused. It’s easy for us to get lost in our problems and ourselves to a point where we lose sight of God. When we become too focused on ourselves, we are no longer focusing on God. So much of our time even in prayer is spent on me, I and myself prayers such that we even forget to just sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to what God has to say over our lives. How many times have you taken time to just worship and give thanks to God? Jesus himself is a perfect example of considering others better than even ourselves. Even though he was God, he did not consider this as something to cling to. He instead accepted to give himself fully for me and you, even enduring suffering and a shameful criminal death on the cross so that we might receive salvation. And as a result, this he was exalted above all, and given the name above all names, that at the mention of that name every knee should bow in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that He indeed is Lord. (Philippians 2:4-11)
- Lust and love. We often find ourselves thinking of a crush before we think of God. We find ourselves lost in romantic fantasy or distracted by our partners. We can even get lost in our partner to where we no longer focus on our faith, and we only focus on the other person. Breakups can also be a huge distraction as we immerse ourselves in sadness. Christians are very marriage focused, and the desire to get married can also be a huge distraction from God and His purpose for our life.
- Television, movies, books…they all provide escape from our daily lives. There is nothing that says we cannot provide ourselves a little break from reality by being entertained, but when that entertainment gets in the way of our faith, it becomes a spiritual distraction. We need to cultivate a balance. Our affections should not be misplaced. 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)
- Material things. Every day, every week we wake up to new gadgets, new stuff. All we need to do is to draw a difference between what we want and what we need. No single day shall we fail to get updated stuff in the market but God has been there, he is there and will forever be there. He is eternal. The bible says that He is God yesterday, today and he will be God even tomorrow. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Tim 6:10)
- Academics and work. We all need to go to school and many people need to work. They are an essential part of our lives, but we also need to be careful not to let them distract us from our faith. Now, faith does not give us an excuse to ditch school or not study. To avoid the distractions that school and work can cause, we must be better at managing our time. An out of control schedule is one thing we must save ourselves from. We have to, we must prune our activities. Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:16)
- Works of service. Even serving God can provide a spiritual distraction. Sure, we may be working for Him, but sometimes we lose sight of God in our struggle of being better and better servants every day.
How then do we maintain a focus on Christ?
True fellowship requires us to put to death all that is earthly (fornication, impurity, evil passions, covetousness- adultery) and bring to life the heavenly (compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness and patience). Striving daily to die to self and be alive in the spirit can be really helpful. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (col 3:1-4)
We can only be focused on Christ when our private lives are in order. Developing and constantly observing the basic spiritual disciplines of bible study, meditation on the word, daily quiet time, a never ceasing prayer cycle and a petrous hard faith can be of great help:
Here are some practical ways for a born-again believer to stay focused on Christ:
- Commit to reading the Bible. It is impossible for a believer to be consistently in the Word without having his attention drawn again and again to Christ: “The Scriptures point to me!” Jesus said (John 5:39, NLT) Then He said to them, this is what I told you while I was still with you: everything which is written concerning Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled. Then He [thoroughly] opened up their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, Thus it is written that the Christ (the Messiah) should suffer and on the third day rise from (among) the dead, (Luke 24:44) (Hebrews 10:7). To focus on the Word of God is to have the Son of God brought more into focus. Note that when Jesus was tempted by the devil who sought to divert His focus on God, he used the scripture to overcome him. So, reading and memorizing scripture is very key for our focus. We get more focused on God when we meditate upon the scriptures day and night (Joshua 1:8)
- Develop your prayer life. Prayer is a communication with our heavenly father. When we communicate to Him in prayer, we definitely focus on Him. If you want to know how to pray, read Jesus’ instructions to His disciples in Luke 11:1–13. As you speak to the Lord throughout your day, you will naturally be more focused on Him. Little things, big things—we can come to the Lord with any and all of our cares. The command is to “pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), to always be in an attitude and atmosphere of instant prayer.
- Trust the Lord as your only protector: “My eyes are ever on the LORD, for only he will release my feet from the snare” (Psalm 25:15). Once we understand the spiritual dangers we face every day, we will focus more on Christ, our one and only Savior, who alone has the power of deliverance.
- Recognize your constant need of the Lord as the source of all good things: “Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us” (Psalm 123:2, ESV). The world offers various means of obtaining love, joy, and peace, but they are destined to disappoint. The believer should understand that love, joy, and peace (and a many other fine gifts) are the direct result of his relationship with Christ (Galatians 5:22–23). As some put their trust in horses, chariots and their own might, we put ours in the Lord. (Psalms 20:7)
- See the world for what it is: a sin-filled place of desperate need. The darker the world is to us, the more clearly the light of Christ will stand out. It’s not hard to focus on a light in a darkened room. And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises (comes into being) in your hearts. (2 Peter 1:19). Those who stay focused on Christ will find their perspective on worldly things changing…And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
- A daily quiet time with expectancy, reverence, alertness and willingness to obey. “O God, you are my God. I earnestly seek you.” (Ps 63:1) Mark 1:35- Early in the morning Jesus separates himself to a quiet place to have a focused time with His father. Acts 2:1-2 peter and John went to the temple to have a time in prayer. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Have a time specifically set for Him.