I’ve been accused of having a one-track mind. Frankly, it’s probably true. If there’s something I want to get done, my entire focus is centered on accomplishing the task.
For example, when I moved into my dorm room in college, I didn’t gradually unpack and slowly transform my new home. No way. I burned the midnight oil until every article of clothing was hung in the closet, each piece of furniture was placed precisely, and all my posters were arranged perfectly on the wall. My friend Brendan and I referred to such behavior as operating in “machine mode” (if it’s later than 2:00 a.m., you’re barely human anyway).
Such rigidness has its advantages; it also has dangerous drawbacks. A few weeks ago I found a shirt on the Internet I really wanted to buy. Even better, I had a coupon for 40 percent off at the store. As I went through my day I became obsessed with that shirt. I read reviews of the product over lunch and plotted how I was going to slip into the mall between the end of work and my 6:00 p.m. appointment.
This particular Wednesday also happened to be three days before our Easter program at church, for which I was writing the narration and the closing message. As my last meeting ended, I had a choice: head to the mall or finish writing my sermon. Realizing I didn’t have time to make it to the store, I stopped at a local café and reluctantly pulled out my computer.
As I began writing, the power of God’s Word knocked me over like a gust of Nebraska wind.
That week, about 2,000 years ago, Jesus faced the most difficult thing any human ever had to endure. Yet as He hung on the cross, branded as a criminal, Jesus wasn’t thinking of Himself. He was thinking of you and me.
As I prepared to share the good news of His death and resurrection, I realized that all I’d been focused on was storing up earthly treasures.
In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins details the defining characteristics that allow businesses and organizations to make the leap from mediocrity to superiority, from good to great.
As Christians we should pay attention. The twenty-first century is a time characterized by mediocrity and compromise. We are the church of Laodecia, the lukewarm Christians described in Revelation 3. Being a Christian—even an Adventist—in North America in 2012 is not too difficult.
Or are we just too distracted to realize what’s really going on?
Ellen White warned us of such disguised attacks: “Satan invents unnumbered schemes to occupy our minds, that they may not dwell upon the very work with which we ought to be best acquainted. . . . He knows that with him everything depends on his diverting minds from Jesus and His truth” (The Great Controversy, p. 488).
Did you catch that? The devil doesn’t need us to sin; He just needs to shift our focus away from Jesus. He needs us to be distracted.
I get distracted every day by so many things: my career, my hobbies, my yard, my car, my finances, a random shirt I found on the Internet. None of these things are inherently sinful. Most of them are good things. But if they’re collectively taking the bulk of my time, my energy, and my focus, then they’re the enemy of the great.
Maybe like me you’re a task-oriented, driven person who will forgo sleep to finish the job. Or maybe you’re a little more laid-back. Regardless, you can rest assured that Satan has a specialized plan of attack formulated just for you. This plan doesn’t attack only your sinful tendencies; it tempts you to get lost in the little things, to get distracted. The antidote is to focus daily on Jesus and His truth.
That’s the only track I want my mind to run on.
Jimmy Phillips (jimmyphillips15@gmail.com) writes from Bakersfield, California, where he is electronic media coordinator for San Joaquin Community Hospital. Visit his Web site at www.introducingthewhy.com. This article was published June 14, 2012.

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