I’ll never forget my first “Driver’s Ed” experience. Barreling down the street at an excessive 20 mph, my knuckles white with fear as I attempted (just barely) to keep the car on the road. Images of my early years on a bicycle flashed through my mind, leaving me to wince every time the vehicle passed a mailbox. These menaces of the pavement seemed no less a threat now that I was surrounded by half a ton of metal and, in my head, I could see myself careening headlong into them, leaving a trail of destruction in my wake.
“What are you looking at?” my instructor asked, grabbing the wheel and steering me back towards the road.
“The mailboxes,” I replied, sheepishly avoiding his gaze.
He pointed, drawing my attention back towards the road. “Don’t. The car will go wherever your eyes focus. So focus on where you want the car to go.”
The advice was sound and applies as readily to the Christian walk as it does to driving a vehicle: our lives (and our Gospel dialogues) will always head in the direction of our focus. If our focus mirrors Paul’s instruction to the Hebrews to, “[fix] our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2), we’ll do just fine. But if it doesn’t… watch out!!
It shouldn’t surprise us that one of Satan’s favorite “distraction” tactics is to repeatedly draw our attention away from Christ by shifting our focus to the evil which surrounds us. And, like the mailboxes lining the road, that evil often lies very near to the path which we ought to be traveling.
You’ve probably already experienced this particular distraction at least once or twice when dealing with someone who’s behavioral patterns are very visibly in contradiction to Scripture. Perhaps they boast of their sexual conquests, swear every third word, or participate in the occult. For most Christians, consistent exposure to sin is distinctly uncomfortable and it is easy for us to begin focusing so much on the sin that we lose sight of both the sinner and the Christ who offers them Salvation! The results are almost inevitably disastrous!
In order to eliminate their discomfort, many Believers will simply run from the awkward person or situation. We generally justify this as “fleeing sin”, however, if fleeing sin means that we have nothing to do with anything that is tainted by it, we’d better flee from ourselves as well! Sin is a part of the world we live in and will be until the end of time, so running from anything and everything that displays this unfortunate reality won’t do us much good… and it definitely won’t result in opportunities to share the Good News with lost souls! Paul’s reminder to Timothy is just as valid for us as it was for him:
“…God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” (2 Timothy 1:7)
The truth is, we have no reason to fear, even when those whom we encounter seem to be very directly within Satan’s clutches.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)