Back to the Basics: Distractions

Here is our message from our first week of YChurch! last week. We are getting back to the basics of what it means to be a Christian and middle/high school student.  Our youth participated in conversations looking for distractions they can remove from their lives to give more time back to God.

Tonight we are going to be talking about distractions, specifically things that distract us from God.  So, what I want all of us to do is, take out iPhones, Androids, or other cellular devices, and place them on the table up here. This will serve as a gesture that we are committed to our time together this evening and also committed to growing in our relationship with God.

 Allow enough time awkward moment to pass and for students to come forward.

Distractions are a fact of life.  I myself am easily distracted. Whether it is listening to a sermon, watching a football game, or paying attention in class there is always something tugging at me, requiring my immediate attention.  Or so I think.

How many of us in the room have ever been in the middle of a deep conversation with a friend or family member only to have our cell phone make a chirping noise and we then immediately put off the conversation we are in to check and see what late breaking Facebook posting or tweet has come our way?  I do it, I am not proud of the fact that I do it, but I feel like I need to constantly be connected to what’s going on in the world even if that means I am not connected to the person across from me.

Matthew 19:16-30 tells us the story of a young rich man who asks Jesus, “what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”  After telling the young man to keep all of the commandments and listing them, Jesus’ response is simple in verse 21,” sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”

Many of us think that we are helping the poor or those in need, whether it is a shoulder to cry on, or helping an elderly neighbor with work around the house.  We tell ourselves, “hey, look at what I’ve done, I have checked off the ‘helping the poor’ box off of my list for the month”.  I do this, all the time.  I justify in my mind that what I am doing is just enough.  Not more than is necessary, but not less than is required.

A few months ago, Allison and I were at a concert that was sponsored by World Vision.  For those of you who do not know what World Vision is, World Vision is a NGO that is based upon the Christian belief that Christ charged us with the duty of taking care of our brothers and sisters who are in need.  World Vision works throughout the world in Africa, Asia, South America, and even a few hours from here in rural West Virginia.

During the intermission of the concert a spokesman came on stage to give a presentation on child sponsorship, the core of the World Vision mission.  Allison and I sat in our seats listening to the speaker and said to one another that we hoped a lot of people would sign up to pay the $35 per month to help these desperate children and their families.

As we left the concert we walked past the table where people were signing up to sponsor children and to our shock there were not many people there.  We commented to each other how disappointing it was that no one was signing up to help.  Allison then gave me the look; you guys know what “the look” is.  I’m sure you have been the recipient of “the look” from a parent at some point.  She called me out.  It was not that other people needed to help. But rather, that since we have been so blessed by God that it now our responsibility to serve because we had the means to do so.  It was time for us to begin removing the clutter that we think we needed in our lives to make us complete.

Now I am not making a pitch for World Vision tonight.  I by no means expect all of you to go home tonight and sign you families up to sponsor a child. I also do not expect you to sell all of your possessions like Jesus instructed the young man in Matthew to do. My hope is that tonight, we can begin to examine the distractions that are keeping us from entertaining the idea of doing these acts.

God requires sacrifice from each of us: a sacrifice of our possessions (monetary) and also of our time.

“But Teer, I’m at YChurch! tonight and I was at church on Sunday.”

I’m not talking about the weekly rituals we have of corporate worship, worshiping as an organized congregation, or acts of fellowship.  I am referring to daily acts of spiritual formation that on paper sound like a great idea but when push comes to shove can be harder to remember to do.

On average it can take up to 66 days to form a new habit, over 2 months!  Who has time for that?! Daily acts of spiritual formation can take many forms. Daily devotional time with God, prayer, Bible studies, meditation, and the list goes on.  This is something that I personally really struggle with. I will do really well but then I get complacent in my actions and taking one day off from my daily scripture reading turns into days or even weeks. One day without reading my Bible and God knows, two days and I know, three days and everyone knows.

These daily acts of devotion to God required of us in addition to our physical service and giving of gifts.

So my challenge to you and to myself is over he next week to get back to the basics of the faith.  Remove the distractions from your life that are preventing you from the daily to commitment to God.  Move past the notion of our faith being a weekly activity and go all in.  Sell off your possessions, the distractions in your life, to begin taking the step in building a deeper more authentic relationship with Christ.  Dive into the scriptures, if you have a question ask your parents; get a hold of Paul or myself.  Use the resources that God has put in place for you to help you bridge the gap between what you know now and that God is going to reveal to you as you take the next step forward in your relationship together.