Balance#2: Focus vs. Fuzziness

When I was still in Seminary I studied the lives of many of the Church Fathers. As I studied, I marveled over all they learned and accomplished for the glory of God. Their actions and for many their martyrdom laid the foundation for the world-wide Church to be built upon. I felt that in comparison to their lives and the many things they left behind that my life was incredibly simple and meaningless.

I struggled over this for a long while until a thought came across my mind; the majority of these men were single and rather than having a family they chose to dedicate their lives to serving the Church. They did not have to be concerned with paying bills, setting up a system of retirement, making sure their children were healthy and provided for, keeping their relationship with their spouses strong, or preparing for future needs like clothes, car repairs, college, etc. Their lives were full, but not full of the many things that most of today’s Christians have to deal with.

This led me to another one of life’s conundrums: how much focus should I place on each thing in my life? With a finite amount of time, talent, and treasure how do I best serve Christ and impact eternity for the better? This, I believe is the problem most Christians in America struggle with and need to answer if they are going to be able to impact the Kingdom of God in a positive way. I believe the answer lies in finding balance.

I learned a pretty interesting lesson a few years ago concerning light. Light is a powerful thing that can be harnessed to accomplish many amazing things: lighting up a room, warming up a greenhouse, allowing us to drive on the road at night, and use our electronics in ways our ancestors could never imagine. It can also be used to perform surgery through the power of lasers.

See, a laser is just an incredibly harnessed beam of light that is so hot it can be controlled to perform delicate and very specific surgery. It allows doctors in various fields accomplish tasks no amount of scalpel work could ever do. The truly amazing thing is that the same light that can light a room can accomplish delicate surgeries; the only difference is how focused the light is.

The same is true with our lives; we can spread all of our resources out to where we become like a beam of light. The more you spread light out (aka diffusion) the fuzzier the light becomes and the harder it is to see. The opposite is also true; the more focused the light becomes (aka concentration) the more powerful it is but the harsher it becomes. Each can be beneficial or detrimental depending on its use.

Life is similar to that; when we focus our time, talents, and treasure on one area that can cause us to neglect the other important areas. Yet, when we spread our resources out we can do very little for all the things in life we want to do. We must decide that things we should focus on through balancing eternal things with temporal responsibilities. This balance is possible but the question is how we go about finding it.

This idea is not a new one by any means. People in Jesus’ time struggled with these same issues. They perhaps had more to deal with because if they failed to find work or grow crops they did not eat and could not pay their taxes to the Roman Empire. On top of those problems, Jewish people had to pay Temple taxes and obey the hundreds of religious laws found in the Law of Moses. Plus, they had familial obligations that they were required by law to keep up with. All of this could easily become overwhelming.

Jesus taught about this when speaking to those who were following him in Matthew 6 saying:

[31] “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ [32] These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. [33] Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. (Matthew 6:31-33 NLT)

The context of this passage (I encourage you to read the entire chapter to get the extra parts) is Jesus teaching on the worries of life. There are clothes to buy (or make in their day), crops to grow and harvest, wine to make (because the water was not always safe to drink), and so many other things. Jesus was telling them to put their focus where it matters: on the Kingdom of God.

If we seek God’s Kingdom first and live righteously the rest of the things will fall into place. What does this look like? In my experience, when we treat others the way Jesus taught us to treat them then we gain respect from our friends and coworkers. When we are honest in our dealings and live honorably then people want to be around us and opportunities just seem to come our way. When followers of Christ focus on following him first, then the other things just seem to come about.

Sure, things don’t always work out in a positive way. But by and large, followers of Christ who truly seek his Kingdom have good things come their way. This is not some cosmic karma or works based theology; God promises to take care of the rest of these things in our lives. Tough times come, but God carries us through. We have happiness and sorrow but we are filled with the joy of the Holy Spirit through it all.

Here is my encouragement for you; seek God’s Kingdom and live righteously. Not to earn favor or to gain rewards but to please our Lord and Savior. When we do that, the rest of these things fall into place. Don’t become so focused on one area that you miss out on the others nor should you spread yourself so thin that you cannot accomplish anything of importance. Seek the balance between a fuzziness in your life and extreme focus; seek the Kingdom of God.

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