The issue of distracted driving has become a big issue in our day. Most often we see this when people are engaged in text messaging or talking on their phone while they are driving. A person can get so distracted with their phones that they forget that they are in a car going down the freeway at 70 mph or more. The consequences are often disastrous.
This can happen in our everyday life in a less spectacular but more damaging way. It happens when Christians get so wrapped up in worldly cares that they don’t pay attention to the spiritual needs that are around them
In Matthew 16:5-12 Jesus, sitting in a boat with his disciples, sought to warn them about the “leaven” of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These religious leaders were legalists (Pharisees) and liberals (Sadducees)–two extreme errors that his disciples needed to avoid.
But instead of understanding that Jesus was speaking about spiritual things, the mention of leaven made them think about bread, and the fact that none of them had thought to bring bread on their trip. Frustrated, Jesus pointed them to the fact that he was not speaking about bread, for the clear and simple fact was that if they were in want of bread, he had proven over and over that he could miraculously provide for them the needed food.
There are some important lessons to learn from Jesus and his disciples about the reality of daily spiritual distractions that we encounter:
Three Consequences of Christians who get so wrapped up in worldly things that we don’t become properly engaged in heavenly things.
1. We run to others and not to Jesus (verses 7-8)
First, the disciples turned to each other for bread. This is a natural response for an unbeliever who feels he has no one else to turn to because he is separated from God. But we are children of God and are no longer enemies of God. As God’s children the first person that we should run to in our need is to our heavenly Father. For a Christian who is living life not by sight and not by faith, the distance they feel between themselves and God may lead them to find their needs fulfilled in others first. We can be like a child who is estranged from her father. She may have very real needs, but because the relationship is distant and not as it should be, whether by sin or mere neglect, this child would rather seek out help from friends and even strangers before a loving parent who would readily help.
Friends,Jesus is right there in the boat! But they turn to one another. Jesus is as close as a prayer! His Spirit is within you! But when we become so overwhelmed in the things of this world, we can turn to worldly solutions and those around us before we turn to God.
2. We forget how dependent we are on God (verses 9-10)
Jesus reminded the disciples how he had provided for the crowds of 5,000 and then 4,000. The point that they should have grasped was one that we often forget. Everything we have comes from the good hand of God, and when we are in need He is the One who provides. This means that we receive not only food, but clothing, jobs, children and grandchildren, friends and homes, even the rain and the sun. The very oxygen that fills this room and fills your lungs came from God.
I am saying this because sometimes we can think in such worldly terms that we see the “extras” in life, the pleasures and blessings in life, as a gift from God, but the mundane and everyday things we regard as somehow our own doing. But we are fully dependent upon God for everything, even life itself. We can forget this when we are wrapped up in the humdrum day to day matters of life. We fail to look into the face of Jesus and thank him for things like dirty laundry, which fills our laundry hamper, remembering that those children who make all that laundry are a gift from God that so many long to have and cannot. Or we fail to thank Jesus for that unfair supervisor who makes you work overtime. We fail to see that so many people would love to have that job so they could feed their family and pay their bills.
Isn’t it easy to get distracted from Christ? We run to others when the Lord is there for us if we would just ask. And how often do we forget how dependent we are upon him and how good he has already been to us?
3. Finally, we get so wrapped up in worldly things when We forsake the lessons of Jesus for everyday troubles (verses 11-12).
Jesus was warning his beloved disciples about a very real danger—false teachers! But all they were thinking about was who forgot to bring lunch!Does this remind you of Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus? Martha also was too weighed down with worldly things. She was so wrapped up in preparing a meal that she failed to engage in heavenly conversations, choosing kitchen duty over a Bible study with Jesus!
This isn’t to say that we need to take care of meal preparations and oil changes. But the urgent things of the here and now, and worse, the frivolous and wasteful things of this world, can crowd out and take away from the time and importance of those spiritual lessons that God wants to teach us.
But that is being penny wise and pound foolish because we eventually reap what we sow! We might enjoy that TV show of football game on Wednesday night instead of coming to Bible study but our souls will be poorer for it. We might get a little bit more sleep on Sunday morning by skipping church or coming late, but our souls are drying up and leaving us open as prey for the enemy. We may choose “family time” over serving the Lord and others, but in the end, can we blame our children for growing up without a love for the Lord and his people? What shall we do then?
The disciples were so earthly minded that they were no heavenly good. Their interests were stuck in this world and not in God’s kingdom.Our world offers so many resources outside of God. But for a Christian, God is the only resource we ever need. Run to him. The conversation that the disciples had in that boat was a conversation that is totally natural for any person on earth to have. BUT Jesus was sitting next to them. Jesus had fed them. Jesus was seeking to teach them. We need to make sure that we don’t carry on like everything is normal. God is with us. Nothing will ever be “normal” again, praise God!