The Age of Distraction

Welcome to the age of distraction. We have screens and gadgets that will take us anywhere we want to go, whenever we want to go. Everything is “high-speed” and “on-demand” to satisfy our impatient and fast-paced society. There are so many ways we can be distracted!

A distraction is something that pulls or diverts us. Our attention is what is being pulled and diverted. Many times when we are distracted, it is from something more important to something less important, but not always. Our attention as Christians must be focused on Christ. We are called to do all things with Christ in mind. Satan often pulls our attention away from Christ and his kingdom. This is one of Satan’s favorite means of attack. He subtly pulls our attention away from Christ with distractions.

How we deal with distractions is closely tied to our use of time. The Holy Spirit through Paul calls us to be followers of God (Eph. 5:1). Ephesians 5 is an exhortation to holy living. Verse 8 calls us to “walk as children of light.” We are to be children of the light over against the works of darkness. How are we to be as lights shining to drive away darkness? By our own conduct. This is what Paul transitions to in verses 15 and 16. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” John Calvin expounds on Paul’s call in verse 16 to redeem the time because the days are evil:

By a consideration of the time he enforces his exhortation. Everything around us tends to corrupt and mislead; so that it is difficult for godly persons, who walk among so many thorns, to escape unhurt. Such corruption having infected the age, the devil appears to have obtained tyrannical sway; so that time cannot be dedicated to God without being in some way redeemed. And what shall be the price of its redemption? To withdraw from the endless variety of allurements which would easily lead us astray; to rid ourselves from the cares and pleasures of the world; and, in a word, to abandon every hinderance.[1]

Many are the distractions that would pull our attention away from Christ. On a typical evening we might find ourselves spending an hour on Facebook, a couple of hours watching whatever it is we watch on TV. Then we are ready to go to bed. We spent the evening doing what we wanted to do and now we quickly read a short passage for devotions because we are too tired to spend much time with that. Our distractions have hindered us from doing things that should be our priority, like devotions. We need to be aware of how everything affects our spiritual lives. Is the activity we are engaged in pressing what God has given us into his service, or is the current activity pulling our attention away from God?

Our time here on earth is short. Whether we live to be 100 years old or only until we are 20, our time in this world is short in the scope of eternity. Things pertaining to the scope of eternity, such as the state of our spiritual life are of utmost importance. Everything else must take a back seat. God has given us time that we might glorify him in all that we do. So we confess with the Psalmist, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

We must not be of the mindset where we say, “I’m only young once; I’ll live for myself now and maybe focus on my spiritual life later.” This is foolishness. How we live now as young people lays the foundation for how we will live as adults and how we will teach our children if the Lord grants them. “Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them” (Eccles. 12:1).

We ought to take an inventory of our usage of time on a typical day. How much time do we spend on Facebook and randomly surfing the web? How much time do we spend reading and studying God’s word in our personal devotions? How much time do we spend reading, and what are we reading? How much time do we watch TV, and what are we watching?

The more time we spend in God’s word and contemplating who we are and what we need, the more we will realize and become appreciative of what God has accomplished for us in his Son, the more we are encouraged to lay aside all distractions that Satan is using to pull our attention away Christ.

We must be diligent in our use of time. In this age of images and screens the importance of reading cannot be emphasized enough. We must be readers of things that give us insight into God’s word. More importantly we must read God’s word itself. We must do this daily and not count it as a burden. How will we ever know how to live as Christians if we don’t study the words of Christ?

By God’s grace we can do this. As we read and study his word, we are sanctified and encouraged to more godly living. We must pray for this work of God in our lives. Our hope on this earth is for the resurrection of our bodies and life eternal in heaven. Our lives must reflect that hope.

[1] Commentaries on the Epistle to the Ephesians. Baker. 314.