Do you have spiritual A.D.D.? Attention Deficit Disorder?
Physical A.D.D. is a widely (probably over-) diagnosed problem among kids these days, but it has been applied to a number of adults, too. This may be attributable to how we’ve trained our minds, because paying attention is a learned thing. Have you ever tried teaching — or watched someone trying to teach — a Kindergarten or first grade class? The teacher’s biggest hurdle is teaching the children how to be students and pay attention — some learn quickly, others not so quickly. Or have you ever tried to coach a little league team? It’s those kids in the outfield I always had the most fear for; they were the ones who were most likely anyway to be watching the clouds or the butterflies or the dandelions rather than the game — just as someone hits a fly ball their way. Lack of paying attention makes for a poor student and possibly an injured baseball player. And such a disorder, in a spiritual sense, also afflicts some disciples of Jesus —with dangerous consequences.
In 1 Cor. 7:35 Paul is in the midst of a discussion about the trade-offs and advisability of marriage and singleness. Because of persecution that Christians were facing, Paul was suggesting that some might want to consider refraining from marriage. He writes, “This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” It was Paul’s inspired aim for them that they possess undistracted devotion to the Lord. And this is a virtue that applies to more than merely the states of marriage or singleness. Especially so in a world full of distraction, distraction, distraction — temptation, temptation, temptation — and busy, busy, busy.
Let’s start with what devotion is. Why? Well, the truth is that we’re a little “schizophrenic” about the definition. On the one hand, we know what Olivia Newton John meant when she sang “Hopelessly Devoted to You” in Grease. She wasn’t talking about 1 hour dinner date once a week was she? No, more; clearly more. She meant to say, “You come first for me!” But oddly enough, we have a different definition, if we are asked if we are devoted to the Lord. “Well, yes, of course!” we might say. But is it the same sort of devotion that Olivia Newton John sang about? The Greek word used in 1 Cor. 7:35 is euparedros, which meant: “constantly attendant”, “One who sits near, ready to serve through obligation or love”, and “ready to obey” — which makes this “devotion” a little more like Olivia’s song and a little less like our religious practices.
It is this sort of devotion that Paul wanted to secure for the Lord in Christian lives. This was, of course, nothing new…
Deuteronomy 6:5 ““You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”
Matthew 6:33 ““But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Luke 14:26 ““If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”
Matthew 19:21 “Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.””
Real discipleship will be devoted. Think about it…
- What do devoted Christians do?
- How often do they sit down to read and think about the Bible per week?
- How often do they take time to pray?
- What do devoted Christians do with their Sundays and Wednesdays (a day often set aside for church Bible study)?
- What kinds of good deeds would they be involved in?
But the problem with devotion is how easily distracted we are. We each have obligation to family, work, and school — and, of course, we like to be entertained (a lot). Jesus recognized the distraction problem in Matthew 13’s parable of the sower. Some seed, you’ll remember, fell among the thorns and weeds and after initially germinating, was eventually choked out. Jesus interpreted this in Luke 8:14 “The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity.” Similarly, Paul expressed fear for the church in Corinth: 2 Corinthians 11:3 “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” He was worried that these Christians would be seduced from simple and pure devotion to the Lord.
One might find oneself worrying that such undistracted devotion to the Lord would result in entrance into a monastery. But lest your fears lead you astray on this point, let me point out that Jesus warns us about the dangers, but doesn’t demand we drop them, unless they’ve become our gods — they become what runs our lives. In most cases, we just need to prioritize them properly.
So, how do we juggle all these obligations and desires while “securing undistracted devotion” to Christ? Have you ever packed a trunk or a box? The trick to getting a lot into the box or trunk is to put the big things or most important things in first. Then you put the small or less important things in around the big ones. Application to life: determine what needs to go in first, the Lord’s things — those things that we listed in our minds a few moments ago “What do devoted Christians do?” Now, find room for the family. Now school or work. Now entertainment or relaxation.
So clear out the box of your life. Put spiritual things in first, and then put in the rest of it highest priority to lowest. Yes, that may mean that something will get axed, but that’s OK because Jesus is worth it. He’s worth all you devotion. He’s worth all your sacrifice — including things you may have had to cut out. He’s worth all your efforts to juggle and arrange. After all, Christ gave the full measure of devotion to you and me.
What will you do to secure undistracted devotion to Jesus?
Now, you may not be a Christian and you may be thinking that all this stuff sounds pretty stringent — a burden you may not be too keen on bearing. May I explain to you that Christian devotion is really no burden. Jesus, being by nature God, decided to lower Himself and live as a man. He put up with all the temptations and diseases and distractions and nonsense that we all have to put up with yet without sinning even one time. He allowed Himself, deliberately, to be captured by His enemies, unfairly accused, tried, and be executed in the most humiliating and painful way known to man — so we could be forgiven of our sin. Then He arose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father as King over His Kingdom — interceding for us regarding sin, regarding prayer, and everything that we need.
His love — demonstrated so long ago and being demonstrated even today, so deep and wide and amazing — has captivated the hearts of every Christian today. So, no, “undistracted devotion” is no burden.
If you’re ready to give your heart to Him, giving the devotion and obedience that He deserves, we encourage you to obey Him in baptism today.