Are you addicted to distraction?
When was the last time you looked at your phone? How many times have you unlocked your phone this hour? This day? This week?
If you are like a large portion of society, you are addicted to distraction. Studies differ in precise numbers, but they paint a similar picture: we 1) consume too much media, 2) are on our phones too often and for too long, and 3) fail to realize the extent of our addiction.
According to Nielsen, the average American adult spends over 11 hours per day consuming media. If the amount of time lost doesn’t shock you, a study from Ofcom shows the average person in the UK checks their cell phone every 12 minutes.
Not all distractions are sinful. Jesus dealt gently with Martha, even though Mary made the better decision (Luke 10:38-42). Within a specific time and context, Paul referred to marriage – a holy institution designed by God – as a possible distraction (1 Corinthians 7:33-35).
But distractions can be deadly. Jesus, by way of parable, describes distractions as thorns which choke the word from one’s heart (Matthew 13:1-23). Note the description of the distractions, “but worldly cares, the seductiveness of wealth, and the desire for other things come in and choke the word, and it produces nothing” (Mark 4:19 NET).
Is the solution to abandon all technology and practice a monastic lifestyle? Should we lament our age and long for the “good old days”?
No, friends. The solution is far bolder and more fundamental. We must change ourselves. We must cease serving the creation, and worship and serve the Creator (Romans 1:25).
Here are four practical solutions to our daily distractions:
- Look Up. Lift up your eyes and look beyond the digital world. We are to see the power of God in the magnificence of his creation (Romans 1:20). Gaze up to the stars and be amazed. But those sparkles of light are not as bright as those little eyes that may meet yours as you look up. Oh, how we have neglected God’s little ones in our pursuit of distraction! They long for your undivided attention. Give it to them, before they find satisfaction in other, less-godly, pursuits.
- Think About Things Above. Now that you have raised your eyes, concentrate on what you see. Contemplate man’s place in God’s world (Psalm 8). Find pleasure in learning of God and concentrating on his laws (Psalm 1). Fill your down time with prayer (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Live With Purpose. We were made for far better things than likes and shares. We are restless, and so we look to earthly and immediate remedies, but our restlessness remains. As Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” Paul told the Athenians that they were made to search for God and find him (Acts 17:27). We cannot be fulfilled through, nor can we fulfill our purpose by, endlessly scrolling Facebook.
- Practice Self-Control. Change is not easy. Breaking bad habits and establishing new ones requires great effort. Self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23), and is a quality of faithfulness (2 Peter 1:6). But self-control is futile if there is no love. I know you love Jesus, and you know he loves you. Won’t you let that love control you? (2 Corinthians 5:14).
God made us to be totally infatuated with him. Life is so much more fulfilling when we put down the phone, turn off the television, and allow Christ to be our life (Colossians 3:4).
Lee is a servant of God, a husband to Julia, and a father to Jeremiah, Micah, and Noah. He works with the saints in Marlow, OK.