I was a garbage employee, once upon a time. I would like to excuse myself by saying I was in my twenties with no intention of making a career out of my desk job and Pinterest was a brand new thing and we were all in a bit deep for a minute… However, the reality is, I was selfish. I didn’t start out that way, actually, at the beginning I was the complete opposite, I had a lot to learn and needed to focus, my bosses weren’t human yet (therefore they terrified me), and I wanted to do a good job. I had every intention of being a model employee. It didn’t happen overnight. I had a free minute here or there so I’d hop on Facebook, check a message or two and then hop right back to work. As time went on the newness wore off, my bosses weren’t the monsters I thought they’d be, and I got comfortable. A quick Facebook check turned into scrolling, a Pinterest break turned into more DIY ideas than any person could handle in a lifetime, and somewhere along the lines I found myself distracted more hours of the day than working. I never wanted to be a trash employee, in fact I was raised to be the opposite, but there I was, wasting my employers money and becoming severely stressed from the pile of papers next to me.
The church of Pergamum got distracted. I think Pastor Rich said it best this week, “Why kill when we can distract?” In fact, when the church was persecuted they rose to the occasion! Revelation 2:13 says “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.” In trials they were rockstars. So, It wasn’t persecution that broke this church, it was distractions; little stumbling blocks that led to major falls.
Does that resonate with you? Does it ever seem so easy to be firm in your faith when there is opposition, but so hard to stand firm on the bland, ordinary days? Let me just say when my boss was standing by my desk I did not check my Facebook. When I had a deadline that I could be fired or severely punished for; I did it. When I’m fighting with my husband or my anxiety flares I go to the Bible —when I’m bored I pick up my phone. Satan is cunning. He knows that chaos and strife will drive us closer to God, however, he knows the more he distracts us the further we will wander and the farther we will be from God. A seemingly innocent “real quick” turns into hours wasted, a video leads to adultery, a couple glances lead to divorce. Little distractions don’t stay little. In fact, It was a “little” bite of fruit that lead to the fall of mankind, a little jealousy grew to murder for Cain, and a little glance at a woman on a roof was all it took for David. When we allow little distractions into our life, when we take our eyes from Christ and put our selfish desires before Him we create idols. They can be as big as an addiction or as small as scrolling too much on your phone.
So, how do we combat this? How do we stop the cycle of distractions? Thankfully, he gives us a two part answer in his address to Pergamum:
- “Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.” (Revelation 2:16) We need to repent and we need to understand the consequences if we do not.
- “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.” (Revelation 2:17) We need to shift our focus from the temporal to the eternal.
If I know that there are severe consequences on the line I do not get distracted, just as when there is a prize on the line. The decisions Pergamum made affected their eternity. They had the option to repent and turn back to Christ, and so do we. We forget that this world is not our home nor is this life ours. We forget that life is so unbelievably temporary, what we consider long Jesus called quick. When we focus on eternity we focus on Him, on His Kingdom. I don’t want to get to Eternity and find out I was a trash employee, that I put aside all the plans He had for me for a couple likes. I don’t want to look at the face of my savior who died for me and say I was too busy watching YouTube and obsessing over elections to go out and love, reach, and disciple.
Thankfully, we don’t have to. He has given us everything we need to be overcomers, but in order to tap into that power we have to set aside our comforts, our distractions, our idols and seek Him in ALL things. We have to pick up our Bible when we would rather sleep in, we have to take EVERY thought captive not some, we need to pray, and we need to repent immediately and face the pile of unfinished work instead of shrugging little sins aside. It is not simple, but look at the reward, it is worth it. He is worth it.