A couple of months ago, my congregation was studying about what it means to be living sacrifices. The series was called Worship 24 x 7, and I even had the privilege of delivering a lesson in the series about our Christian lives at school. Being a living sacrifice is a large undertaking. Numerous passages in the Old Testament – like Exodus 12:5, Exodus 29:1, Leviticus 1:3, Leviticus 3:6, and many more – require those ancient sacrifices to be without stain or blemish. We’re the same. Romans 12:1-2 calls us us to completely transform ourselves, removing ourselves from conforming with the world, and making our bodies and lives spiritual sacrifices suitable for God.
We’re good at keeping away from the larger blemishes, the outright sins we are warned against from childhood. We are in little danger from conformity when it comes to sexual abuse, drug abuse, violence, theft, or other such obvious sins. The things we need to be most wary of are those little distractions in our daily lives that keep turning our attention off of God and back to this world. These are what prevent us from completely turning our thoughts over to praise and our steps to worship. These distractions leave tiny, almost unnoticeable, blemishes on us that keep us from being truly pure living sacrifices.
Philippians 3:12-16 records Paul speaking of his life as one that is pressing upwards toward a goal. He has focus and direction that helps guard him from distractions. Hebrews 12:1-2 says something similar, telling us to lay aside our burdens and encouraging us to keep our eyes set on the goal before us. It’s a fairly simple principle, whether you’re talking about finishing a race, completing a large project, or undertaking a long trip. You blank out as many distractions as you can and focus wholly and entirely on the goal – which is great until you find yourself playing games on Facebook while you’re supposed to be researching solar radiation for a big report. The principle is simple at face value. Putting it into practice is something else entirely.
There are realities of this world from which we cannot entirely hide – debt default, economic crisis, threats from hostile sources, health issues, challenges on the job, pressures at school, and many other cares of this world. Some are real and pressing. Others – like political arguments, conspiracy theories, personal soapboxes – are largely self-manufactured. The stresses and outward pressures outside our control will be there regardless of what I do, and the distractions I impose on myself speak to the priorities I hold dearer than my spiritual health. The question is not one of my control over these factors. It is one of how much control I will let them have over me. If we’re fretting our time away, trying to take control of issues and decisions that are out of our hands, then we know we’ve given them too much control. We’ve become distracted.
That is yet another reason why time spent together worshipping God and studying from His word is so valuable to our sacrificial lives. That is another reason family Bible study is essential. It is another reason we should be checking everything we say, tweet, update, participate in, watch, read, or endorse against this simple metric: is it helping me reach my goal? Does it make me more spiritual or less spiritual? Is this party I want to attend, this radio talk show I listen to, this television program, this website, this argument, this anything helping me press toward the upward goal? If not, it’s sidetracking me and distracting me from where my focus should be. It’s leaving me blemished in God’s eyes. Let’s reaffirm our focus on God every day, and let’s allow nothing to distract us from worshipful living.