Walking across my college campus, you might think a zombie apocalypse had just occurred. As students weave through other students to get to their next class, their eyes are glued to their cellphone screens. Sometimes you’ll see these students walk into windows, poles, or people. You’ll also witness them ignoring the greetings of their friends because they’re so engrossed in the technology at their fingertips.
Though inattentiveness is rampant among my generation, it is something that people of all ages struggle with. We all have the tendency to become distracted and forget about the life happening all around us.
Our Inattentiveness Has Spiritual Consequences
While our distractedness definitely has severe social implications, it most importantly has consequences on our spiritual lives. When we are distracted by our busy schedule, technology, or stress, we tend to ignore what God is doing in, through, and around us.
Having the Spirit of Mary in a World Full of Marthas
In the Bible, Martha was distracted from listening to the teachings of Jesus because she was so preoccupied with serving Him.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.” -Luke 10:38-40
Like Martha, instead of seeking to know God more deeply, we become absorbed by doing things to serve Him. God calls us to instead be like Mary; to live in the truth of His grace and pay attention to His teachings and leadings.
In the next part of the passage, it is evident that Jesus was much more concerned with the state of Mary’s soul than with what she was doing for Him.
“And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha’s distractions and anxiety prevented her from being truly present with Jesus. Jesus’ priorities are not the same as Martha’s priorities. Above all, He cares about the condition of her soul. Jesus does not value Martha for what she does or how well she does it, but for who she is as a child of God.
Be Still and Seek God
So often we too become distracted by the insignificant things of our day and are taken away from the stillness needed to seek God. Isaiah 26:3 tells us that when we focus our thoughts on the Lord, we experience His peace:
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
Be Set Apart in a Culture Pursuing Productivity
We need to set ourselves apart from our culture’s relentless pursuit of productivity. Establish a chunk of time every morning to focus yourself on the Lord. Turn off your phone for a couple of hours. Pray as you drive to work or school. Show the people around you that you love them by being fully present with them. And most importantly, consciously seek to make God’s priorities your priorities.