The latest book by Francis Chan, “Letters to the Church” is a fantastic and convicting work that compares the modern Western church to the early Church detailed in the New Testament. This will always be a touchy topic because one feels the need to walk the tightrope between offending and convicting. I think Francis does a masterful job of doing this, but much to my delight chooses to err on the side of not worrying what anyone other than God might think.
Early on, Pastor Chan writes, “The older I get, the more aware I am the end is near. There is no time to care about what I want in the church. There’s no time to worry about what others are looking for in a church. I will be facing Him soon, so I have to stay focused on His desires.” This is a word by which we all should be living.
Stay focused. Those words could be a mantra for my life. You wouldn’t need to hang out with me very long before you would hear those words from me. I use these words as a constant reminder in my personal life and when coaching my clients, employees, or peers. The worst thing we can do is to spread ourselves too thin over many interests or become distracted. The result of either is to miss the mark. If you want to reach your goal, whatever it is, you must stay focused.
What is true in business or our personal lives is also true in our spiritual lives. That is not a coincidence. All things derive from the spiritual, so applying solid spiritual principles into every area of our lives is an intelligent habit and strategy. Distraction is the oldest and seemingly favorite weapon Satan employs against us. Bad things always happen when we take our eyes off Christ. We don’t need to look away from God completely. It only takes catching something out of the corner of our eye to lead us to disaster.
We have a mission to work alongside Jesus to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to reality on earth (Matthew 6:9-10). To do our part, we must stay focused. We can’t care what others will think of our work, our decisions, or our lifestyle. It is only the approval of Jesus we seek. We can only carry out His will in our lives if we keep our gaze unflinchingly on Him. There can be no right or left; there can only be straight ahead. There can only be Jesus.
We have allowed too much of the culture and the world into our churches. We have co-opted strategies and techniques from the business world and integrated them into how we do church. Programs and buildings have replaced communal care and suffering. We lost our focus and became more concerned with growth than God. It’s not about the number of people in our services. It’s about radical devotion and changed hearts. We don’t see that today. Sure, every now and then we catch a glimpse. New Testament churches are now the extreme exception rather the rule, and millions of souls are going to Hell as a result. We can change this. We must change this. It’s time we put our eyes back squarely on Jesus. Let’s do this and let’s stay focused.