Worship, Distractions, and the Soul

You were saved for worship. That was the emphasis that we saw yesterday morning from Hebrews 9:14, where the word “serve” means “spiritual service” or “worshipful service,” when we read that Christ came to “purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” A similar thought is found in Romans 12:1, where after explaining the gospel for 11 chapters, Paul exhorts us to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God,” adding that this is “your spiritual worship.” Worship in Romans 12:1 is the same root word as serve in Hebrews 9:14. You were saved for worship.

Another way to say that is that you were made to live in awe of God, and that awe should compel you to a particular way of life, a life lived for God. I read a compelling blog post last week that I wanted to pass on to you today as a follow-up to yesterday’s sermon. In this post from The Gospel Coalition–Africa, Joshua Lemayian, associate pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Nairobi, Kenya, makes the case that “our soul (that is, essentially our capacity for relationship with God) shrinks or expands to the size of what it contemplates.” And helpfully, Lemayian deals with one common distraction today that is keeping us from expanding that capacity for deep relationship – social media.

Lemayian writes,

As God’s people, we must protect our sense of awe. We cultivate it that it may grow to take in more of God in the scriptures and in creation. In doing this, we in turn become eloquent pointers to the true source of soul ravishing awe to a world that is in dire need of it. Our sense of awe, however, can be shrunken, redirected, or rendered ineffective through distraction. Few things are as effective in strangling your sense of awe like social media. Social media stifles our capacity to gaze in wonder.

Social media is the focus of attention in this article due to its innate nature to shrink our attention spans, something that is absolutely necessary to actually mediate on God, his word, and his works. But social media is just one example of many, of course. There are many other distractions, many other common distractions, many other things that keep us from setting our minds on things above, not on things that are on earth, as Colossians 3:2 instructs us to do. Each of us need to examine our own hearts and lives to see what it is that may serve as a distraction to us.

At the same time, this is not to say that all social media or any of these other potential distractions are inherently evil. For many of us, those things that can distract us from God are the same things that can be used for good, that do have their purpose, sometimes which is simply the pure enjoyment of them. This doesn’t mean you must completely cut out anything that ever turns your attention away from focusing completely on God, lest you read it to say you need to abandon your family and move into a monastery. That is certainly not the answer.

The answer is found in answering a question: What do you need to do to lay aside not only “the sin that clings so closely,” but also “every weight,” that is, everything that slows you down from following Christ in this life? That’s the command to us in Hebrews 12:1. What do you need to do to keep from distracting your soul to death, shrinking your ability to gaze on God?

You were created for more than social media. You were created for more than golf, or shopping, or college sports, or exercising, or cable news, or romance novels. You were created for worshiping God, with his people, in all of life.

Read the blogpost by Joshua Lemayian. Consider what it is that most distracts you from your God-given purpose. Ask if it is something that you can redeem and enjoy in your growth to godliness, or if it is something you need to reject from your life, at least for a season, if not altogether. And then resolve by faith and with the help of the Spirit of God to set your mind on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

Bert Watts has served since December 2016 as the Senior Pastor at Mountain Creek Baptist Church, where he has been on staff since 2012.

Photo by Bailey Zindel on Unsplash