Greetings, and welcome to another guest post! This time I got Tim Sleeper from The Young Heretics Club. We have been friends for a little while on the internet, and I always enjoy hearing his perspective on random, and not-so-random, issues. So without too much ado, here is his article on Eternal Focus!
When Jay asked me what my thoughts were on focus, it seemed like a joke. I was thinking about suggesting something else to write about that was more interesting and “theological”. But, I decided to stick with the topic I was given. Even though I knew all there was to know about focus, I studied it out anyways. What I found blew my mind. Here are only a few facts to get started:
- The word “focus” does not appear in the Bible
- The words “focus” and “concentrate” have different meanings
- Ironically, the application of “focus” (depending on the definition) is very broad
I thought for sure Paul mentioned focus at least once, I have used the words “focus” and “concentrate” interchangeably, and I thought the application of focus was very narrow. Turns out I was wrong (put that in your record book). This subject gets very deep, but I will try to present as much as I can. However, it isn’t very detailed, so, please take what I say here and study it out for yourself.
To start, I have to define the word “focus”. I also mentioned “concentrate” is different from “focus”, so I will define that as well. There are different definitions for focus, and I think all of them have some application in the Christian’s life, but for this post I will focus on one of the definitions. Put simply:
Focus means to “pay particular attention to”
Concentrate means to “focus all of one’s attention or mental effort on an object or activity”
By definition, “concentrate” indicates an intense form of focus.
We got definitions out of the way, the next question that needs to be asked is “how does focus relate to the believer?” Valid question to which the answer is both simple and complicated. It’s simple as to who we focus on (Christ), but it’s not so simple as to how that focus plays out in its application. To answer the question, I will start out by mentioning that our concentration is on God. God is the creator and author of all things. He owns us. Our concentration, therefore, goes to Him. As a result of that concentration, we focus on His will and His will is to make us into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, I think it reasonable to say our focus is to be on Christ. Now, I don’t get this from only looking at it logically, there is also Biblical support for it.
This brings us to Philippians chapter 3. In Philippians 3 Paul is saying that he counts all his gain as loss that he may gain Christ. Paul doesn’t want his own righteousness, he wants the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ that he “may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death” Philippians 3:10 (emphasis mine). We are to be conformed to the death of Christ. That is our primary focus.
To whiplash to the next question, “what do we focus on and what distracts us from our focus?” The answer to what we focus on is found in Philippians (again)! In chapter 3, verses 18-21 Paul is comparing two different kinds of people: followers of self and followers of Christ. For the followers of self, their end is destruction (Phil 3:19). For the followers of Christ, their end is life with Christ in heaven (Phil 3:20-21). We focus on the end, not the here and now. If we focused on the present, following self would be almost irresistible. Instant gratification, easy life, wants fulfilled, etc. However, if we focus on the end, following self may seem attractive at first, but we then see the end to that lifestyle and walk away. Following Christ certainly does not give you instant gratification, but an eternity with our Lord Jesus Christ has no comparison and is worth all sacrifice.
When I first started writing I was going to give the example of types of media when it comes to distractions from our focus. Instead, I am going to give an example that is a little more inclusive and is (in my opinion) the root of all sin…PRIDE. The unholy trinity of “me, myself, and I”. In everything we do we are faced with two options: follow what God wants, or follow what we want. Ask yourself “how many times have I backed down on doing the right thing because it was hard, uncomfortable, inconvenient, etc?” Man’s natural lean is to serve himself. Do we not eat when we are hungry or sleep when we are tired? Our natural bent is to see to it that we are comfortable. That greatly distracts us from our focus on Christ. Jesus said in order to follow Him we have to deny ourselves. Our focus matters…BIG TIME! We can take the easy road and focus on self and lose our lives in the process (what a great deal), or we can take the narrow way, lose our lives, seek Christ, and gain our lives. We cannot not focus on the perishable and the here-and-now. We must focus on Christ and the eternal.
Hopefully that all made sense. I had three pages of notes and wish I could share them all. For discussion, what are some other distractions you can think of? Why is it important that our minds (focus) are to be on the things above?