Thursday, 4 July 2013

The Importance of Looking

The First Look

Before my accident, I had already participated in two advanced rider training courses. One of the things that was stressed by our experienced professional trainers, was the importance of looking. They made us go through some drills where we had to suddenly dodge some obscured obstacles with one simple instruction: look where you need to go - not what's stopping you from getting there. My unfortunate accident didn't provide me with the opportunity to employ this new skill (because I was blindsided from behind). But this principle of looking is not limited to advanced motorcycle riding. It's also a life-skill.

A potential road accident provides several distractions. On a motorcycle your best chance of minimising harm is to look at where you have to go rather than the potential collision ahead demanding your attention. Even at the time, I pondered how profound the Advance Rider Trainer's words were. So many harmful things in life are caused by a lack of focus on the right things. I think the most common harmful distraction is the Urgent. We should always keep the Important as a higher priority. Yet urgent things jump out at us on the road of life and scream for our attention.
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?
Matthew 6:31
Not all distractions are themselves harmful. Our family has just had two weeks of delightful distractions. In the midst of times like this it is too easy to forget what Jesus taught about what should be our focus. At a time when the Romans had recently come through and massacred Galileans, Jesus gathers the survivors and nearby residents on a hillside and begins to tell them how they can have a blessed life by forgiving, serving underservedly, and being kind to their enemies! Sure, most people were still reeling from the recent Roman atrocities, but their most common distractions were far more urgent: What are we are going to eat or wear? In the midst of such horrific and mundane distractions, Jesus teaches the supreme instruction about priorities andlooking.
¶ "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:24
"Seek first", Jesus said. This tells us clearly that He regards what He is about to say as the priority for His followers. The fact that we have to be told to put this "first" indicates just how difficult this will be for us because we have so many other things vying for our attention (especially urgent things). But Jesus isn't giving us a merely urgent imperative. He is giving His followers the most important imperative. When it comes to priorities, this is "first", says Jesus.

We are told not just to make this our first priority, we are told how to do it. We are to seek. Last week, Kim lost her iPhone. We rushed back to the motel to seek it (to no avail). Compared to what Jesus is about to tell us to seek, an iPhone (despite costing $1200) is worthless! Christ tells us to seek. I guess the fact that we spent so much time and effort looking for a gadget indicates how Christ wants us to enact this supreme priority. He told the story of a woman who relentlessly searched high and low for a single coin lost in her house as a model for how we are to seek and the extraordinary effort required to obey Him in this.
¶ "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost.'
Luke 15:8-9
"Seek first the Kingdom of God" Jesus said. Seek. First. The Kingdom of God. To His original audience, the Kingdom of Rome was all encompassing. It impacted every area of their lives. Jesus says, don't look to Rome. Don't seek Roman approval. Seek the Kingdom of God - first - where My Father is King.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Matthew 6:33
This is done through prayer and faith. Prayer, that surrenders our heart to God and acknowledges that He is King of our life. Faith, that takes up the Word of God and communes with our King each day. Prayer, that we might better know and represent our King. Faith, that we might obey our King even when so many distractions hinder us from doing so. Prayer, that increasingly sounds like worship. Faith, that increasingly acts like we love our King.

The next time you are distracted, either pleasantly or sadly, remember to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness(Matthew 6:33). Is Christ and His Kingdom "first" in your life? The New Testament lists three firsts for the follower of Christ: 1. Seek First the Kingdom of God; 2. Treat the Gospel as of First Importance (1Cor. 15:1-4); 3. Return to your First Love (Rev. 2:1-7). Be a person who puts first things first. Resolve to be a person of deep prayer and deep faith. When you do, quietness becomes your aid and your Bible your companion. This will rarely be urgent, but it will always be important.

Ps. Andrew

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