Remember to Focus
The word "remember" occurs 166 times in the New International Version of the Bible, a figure that reminds us of our propensity to forget things (perhaps you are reading this email because you had to take a break from searching for your car keys or wallet that you misplaced!). Brain researchers tell us that multi-tasking adversely affects our short-term memory. In other words, the more plates we're spinning in our lives, the less likely we will be able to adequately remember certain things. I have found this to be true in my life. Usually, when I find myself asking, "How did I forget that?", it is during a season of life that contains a to do list that is quite extensive, a season in which I'm trying to do too much.
One of the powerful aspects of Jesus' earthly ministry was his ability to hone and focus, even when the needs around him were practically infinite. He always remembered to cultivate his relationship with his Father and he refused to let others set an alternative agenda for him that would have taken him away from the cross. Jesus lived with a deep sense of purpose and mission. Even the teaching of Jesus was incredibly focused so people could remember the truth he communicated:
One day a teacher of the law tested Jesus with a question, "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law? Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (Matt. 22:37-39)
Jesus boiled down the 613 laws of the Old Testament into 2! Love God and love others. Jesus has given us only 2 theological plates to spin and he wants us to daily remember that our lives can be incredibly focused if we love Him and allow His love to flow through us into the lives of others. Yet, even though Jesus has condensed the Law and Prophets into two commands, we still find ourselves forgetting the true focus of our lives. We get distracted. We get tired. We get lazy. We lose our sense of priorities. We get mired in sin. We need constant reminders to focus: love God, love others.
In January we will be starting a new teaching series called Acts: Seeing the Spirit at Work. As I have been doing some preliminary study for this new series, I noticed something powerful about the early church that Luke (the writer of Acts) records in Acts 2. When the Spirit comes at Pentecost, the newly birthed church is marked by an incredible focus. Luke writes:
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer...all the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
Notice how the believers were focused on loving God (devoted to the teaching of the apostles and to prayer) and loving others (fellowship, sharing resources, sharing meals, etc.). The result of their focus was more and more people transformed by the power of Christ. I believe a mark of the Spirit moving in the church is an intense focus on loving God and loving others.
Let's be encouraged to remember that we have been called to live focused lives for God's kingdom. If you're spinning 613 plates in your life right now, remember there are only 2 that Jesus has given you!