This week we begin examining the second enemy to our spiritual health - distraction.
We typically view distraction as negative and frustrating, but not necessarily dangerous. Spiritually speaking, however, distraction can have profound long-term, negative impact. For the purpose of this series, we are defining distraction as the inability to focus on God and others because our attention is taken by less important things.
Beholding God’s Glory
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.
2 Corinthians 3:18
Paul says that as we behold the glory of the Lord, we are transformed, slowly and gradually over time.
Behold = To see or observe; to take in; to pay attention and notice.
Glory = Magnificence or great beauty.
When Paul says that we are to behold the glory of God, with unveiled faces, he is referring to Exodus 34:29-35, where Moses returned from beholding God’s glory on Mount Sinai while receiving the Ten Commandments. When he came down, Moses had to put a veil over his face while speaking with the Israelites because of how brightly his face shone after his experience.
This story is a literal picture of how looking at God in all of His infinite glory affects us. God is more glorious than anything else He created and therefore is more worthy of our attention than anything else. He is supremely and unimaginably worth looking at. God is the ultimate source of glory in the universe.
Even though we might not use the words, we are hard-wired to behold glory. We love to admire and talk about and look at and think about amazing, magnificent, good things -- from sunsets to athletic feats to youtube videos showing people doing amazing things. And, in all the ways that we behold glory, those things are telling us what the Bible has already told us: we were made to look at God. Our souls were made to behold God, to be caught up in Him, and be overwhelmed by Him.
He is the glory behind all other glory.
Paul says that the act of beholding the glory of the Lord, with the help of God’s indwelling Spirit, is what actually changes us. It transforms us from one degree of glory into another - into the image of Christ and the people God created us to be.
Distraction as Enemy
Though our souls were made to behold God’s glory, distraction turns our attention to lesser things. Distraction keeps us from becoming people whose faces metaphorically shine with the glory of God.
Today, we have more distractions available to us through technology than we can even consume. The technology that promises to release us from boredom is actually making it worse and is making us more prone to seek empty distractions than ever before.
While the Internet has only been around for about 25 years and smartphones for about 10 years, technology is now integrated into almost every area of our lives.
- 46% of adults surveyed said they could not imagine living without their smartphones.
- The 2016 Nielsen survey showed that the average American spends 8 hours and 33 minutes per day consuming media on all screens (television, smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.).
- Another study found that we check our phones 85 times a day. With 16 hours of the day spent awake, that means we check our phones every 11 minutes.
With technology being such a major part of our lives, it’s no wonder that our attention is more and more turned away from God. As we’ve explored earlier in this series, our habits are doing things to us - some of us are addicted to distraction and it is dangerously affecting us more than we realize. Our faces don’t glow with the glory of God because they are always glowing with our screens.
Personal Liturgy Challenge
If we would begin to limit our distractions and technology usage and simply look at God, our souls would fill with his majesty and glory, and we would gradually be transformed from one degree of glory to another.
In order to fight for our attention and redirect our time to focusing on God, our challenge for this week is to spend one hour a day completely technology-free. Try using this hour without technology to spend intentional time with God or other people in your life. Practice saying no to the distractions that are keeping you from beholding God’s glory.