How can I stay focused on Christ?
Even those who have followed Christ for a long time can find it difficult to stay focused on Christ. What teachings does the Bible offer to help us stay focused?
In Matthew 13, Jesus gives the parable of the sower that includes insight in this area. In explaining the parable, He shares, "As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful" (v. 22). The "cares of this world" and desire for wealth can cause people to no longer be focused on Christ.
The cares of this world can include a wide variety of competing activities. Many of these activities are even good, but when given the wrong level of priority can take away from focusing on Christ. For example, it is important to work to take care of family needs, but being consumed with work can take the place of serving God.
The same is true with the pursuit of wealth. Money is necessary for many of life's activities, but Paul clearly states, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs" (1 Timothy 6:10). It is the love of money, not money itself, that is sinful and distracts our focus from Christ.
To stay focused, we can learn much from the example of Scripture. First, Luke 9:23 teaches, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Each day we are to deny our personal desires and follow God's way. Christians are not given a day off or a vacation from following God. It is a daily pursuit. In a culture of "Sunday only" Christianity or where faith is seen as only one of many areas of our life, the challenge is to live surrendered to Christ each day.
Second, realize we will endure suffering. Many people stop following Jesus when times are tough; this comes from wrong thinking that we are not supposed to suffer as Christians. Yet Scripture is clear, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). Certainly Jesus suffered greatly. All of the apostles faced great suffering on behalf of their faith. We should expect that life will sometimes be difficult when we live for Christ.
Third, we can stay focused by regularly learning from God's Word. Psalm 119:105 says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." When we are weak, it is often due to not spending adequate time focused on God's Word. This may require time alone with God, time meditating in prayer, or other forms, but the overall focus is that time in God's truth lights our path and keeps us focused.
Fourth, we can stay focused on Christ by spending time with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 shares, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." Time with other believers allows us to be encouraged and grow in good works, while also allowing us to encourage others.
Staying focused on Christ is difficult, but is an essential part of the Christian faith. When we seek to daily grow, anticipate suffering, spend time reflecting in God's Word, and spend time with other believers, we can better focus on Christ and a life committed to Him.
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