Why is it so hard to maintain eternal perspective in our journey with Christ?
Why are we so quick to feel overwhelmed and defeated when most days our worst struggles are “First World Problems“? I don’t know about you, but today I am very glad I do not need to worry about being fed to lions.
Adam and Eve started us off with First World Problems: “Yeah, seriously, I am so royally ticked I can’t eat the fruit from that one tree.”
My question is, does Satan capitalize on our lack of perspective regarding our tiny problems and use these to distract us from keeping our eyes on Jesus? We can all make massive mental lists of all the things that bother, concern, worry, disappoint, annoy, frustrate, and irritate us, all of which may be distracting us from our focus on Jesus. We can nit-pick our way through life and completely miss the Glory of God displayed before our eyes. Missionaries or not, we are all full-time Christians. As followers and disciples of Christ we must listen to His voice and stay focused on Him. If we don’t, we get distracted, and can create havoc in our families and churches by causing division and strife over minor issues and destroy the work of God. How many marriages are broken because of selfishness or misunderstandings? How many churches divide over minuscule arguments?
This past week we hosted two excellent ministry teams – one from North Carolina and one from New Hampshire. They put up with heat, hard work, schedule change-ups, dusty bunks, hand-washing dishes, and showers in musty bathrooms. They could have spent the week complaining about all the inconveniences, flaws in us, flaws in each other, and miss the ministry opportunity entirely. But instead, they rejoiced through the experience, and worshiped and honored God through their love for one another and their service to this community. Satan could not distract them from keeping their eyes on Jesus.
A wise young man I knew confessed to me his struggle being patient with his brothers and sisters in Christ who were fixated on really minor things. He asked God to grant him a heart of compassion even for the smallest “problems.” A girl was complaining to him about how much she liked a guy and was so upset he didn’t like her back. Guys in a local worship band were disagreeing about songs and styles. The wise young man had an urgency about him for what really matters, because he had terminal cancer. He was 24. God gave him compassion toward others with smaller worries than his own, during the remaining weeks of his life. He helped many see things more accurately, from an eternal perspective, that there is a world full of people who need Jesus.
So tell me again, what’s your problem? What is bothering you today? Isn’t it ironic we are told to rejoice in our sufferings, trials, tribulations, and persecutions because these refine us and our faith, and yet we allow minor irritations to take our focus off Jesus?
What would our families, churches, and communities be like if we took to heart and obeyed these words?
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.