Christians: Maintaining Focus – The Apostles’ Journey of Resilience Amidst Distraction.

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( One of the amazing things that occurred quite frequently during Jesus‘ earthly ministry was that he had to remind his apostles to keep their focus, concentrate on the vital issues, the really important things, and not to be sidetracked. It was not that these stalwart Galileans had an attention deficit disorder, or that they were uninterested in what Jesus was teaching them and so become easily distracted. No, that was not the problem at all.

Christians: Maintaining Focus - The Apostles' Journey of Resilience Amidst Distraction.

Just look at who these apostles were, and you see mature individuals who were tough minded, resilient, purpose driven; not theologians and academics, but very practical characters.

Remember that after about three years of being taught by Jesus, these apostles were to venture forth, and lay the foundation of the church. The foundation of the church is Jesus, the chief cornerstone, but it’s pillars of support rest on apostolic doctrine:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

It is true that we do not know what careers each of the apostles followed, but we know that four were fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John Mark 1:16-20) and one was a tax collector (Matthew Luke 5:27)

It is therefore unthinkable, that Jesus would have chosen weaklings for the mighty task of foundation building, and men who could not stand their ground in the face of controversies, or threats to their life, or the many beatings and dangers associated with pioneering work among Jewish fanatics. Remember how Paul chronicled his own perils:

“Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” (2 Corinthians 11:24-27)

Indeed, a check through the Bible and history shows that ALL of the apostles were killed for the faith once delivered to the saints, with the exception of Judas Iscariot that betrayed Jesus, and who committed suicide, and John, who died of old age on the Isle of Patmos.

Yet, for all their fine attributes and solid standing in the faith, the apostles were not immune from getting sidetracked, losing their focus, and misdirecting their energy.

The Bible gives us one such situation, and it is recorded thus:

“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” (John 21:3)

Remember, Peter and some of the disciples were fishermen, that was their trade, just as Jesus was a carpenter, and now that Jesus had died and been resurrected, these now returned to their former occupation. This was clearly a distraction, a loss of focus, since Jesus had said quite clearly, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:19-20)

We should not be hypercritical here in castigating these apostles for going back to their former occupation. They probably thought that fishing was the best, or even the only way to provide for themselves, and also they were practical men who resented being idle.

But they were wrong; this going back does not work.

Remember what Christ said about discipleship: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26). This gives priority to discipleship, to our need to put God first, and we are reminded, “And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

The truth, is that many of us get lazy, quite indifferent, and our focus drift away from what is really important maintaining our focus on Jesus Christ. It is not that we are committing sins, persuing worldly pleasures, or given up trusting God. No, that is not so. It is that so many other things seem to compete for our attention, and we seem to put them on equal footing with Jesus Christ.

Something like this happened to the contentious church at Corinth, and Paul brought them back to what is really important when he said, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2)

In the midst of life’s many twists and turns, ups and downs, it is important not to lose sight of Jesus. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)

Seeing Jesus, what he represents, his ineffable virtues, what he means to us, and what he is doing for every child of God, helps us to remain calm in a world that is chaotic and dangerous. We remember his wonderful words to us, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27)

Seeing Jesus, this wonderful man sent from above, who is now sitting at God’s right hand, but dwelt among us, and overcame all opposing forces to do God’s will, and by so doing, left us an example that we too can triumph on this perilous journey. We remember these delightful words, “To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” (Revelation 3:21)

Seeing Jesus, this lover of humanity, who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk all the way to his death, so that he might redeem us. We were not his friends, but his enemies, and opposed to what he came to earth to do, but he persevered, and showed us what true love is like. We recall these touching words of his, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Remember, he died for us his enemies.

Seeing Jesus, oh how glorious a sight to behold. It is by seeing our Lord and master that we get a true perspective on all that is happening, we see hope where we thought there was none, we are comforted because we know he is with us, and he cares. Part of a song by Helen Howarth Lemmel comes to mind:

O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior,
And life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Yes, my friend, do not lose your focus, or be sidetracked during these tumultuous times. Believers have always faced times like the present, have battled and triumphed over every opposing force, and have never forgotten how to love and support each other.

It is because we focus on Jesus Christ and his ability, “…greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4), that we can affirm our robustness and resilience just like Paul, “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

Staff Writer; Henderson W.

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