If there’s one thing I love it’s paying $22 for my wife and I to go to a movie only to sit by people who just want to see if they can have a conversation so loud it drowns out the movie. I had the pleasure of this experience just last weekend. We went to see Seeking a Friend for the End of the World. About four seats away from us were three teenage boys. I’m sure they saw Steve Carell was in it and assumed it would be non-stop adolescent comedy throughout–but like Crazy, Stupid, Love, while there were plenty of funny moments, overall the movie was thoughtful, uncomfortable (in a good way), and often pretty slow. That’s the kind of stuff that makes teenage boys very uncomfortable. These three responded to their discomfort by beginning a running dialogue with the movie and each other. They were so loud that it became a distraction that made engaging the movie nearly impossible.
I was contemplating walking over and saying something like, “guys, I’m sure this movie isn’t what you had in mind, but we’d really like to be able to watch it and it’s hard with you talking so loud,” but another woman beat me to the punch. About five rows in front of us she turned around and shouted, “Are you just naturally rude or are you drunk?!” Not the most tactful approach, but it did quiet them down. But after all that I was distracted and it was hard to get back into the movie.
Some distractions are relatively harmless. Others can be extremely destructive. Take video games for instance. I’m not talking about the periodic round of Mario Kart, but when a term like “Halo widows” exists there are clearly some who take it too far. When video games distract men from their marriages to the point that they have little relationship left or even get divorced it’s not such an innocent distraction.
One way to measure the destructiveness of distractions is by considering what they distract us from. Distraction from a movie–no big deal. Distraction from your marriage–big deal. This was the key element in the story of Mary and Martha. When Jesus arrived at their house Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Those preparations were not bad in and of themselves, but they became a big problem because they distracted Martha from Jesus.
Like Martha we all have things that distract us from Jesus–worry, money, recreation, work, kids’ activities, TV, iPads–the list could get long. Almost all of these things (with the exclusion of worry) can be okay when they are viewed through the lens of being disciples of Jesus, but when any of them take over our lives and limit our ability to pursue Jesus and his way the distraction has become destructive. After talking about worry in Matthew 6 (a big distraction), Jesus says, “but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you as well.” The world is filled with great things–gifts from God. As long as we seek God’s kingdom and righteousness first all those things will fit into their rightful place. But when we seek something else first it stunts our growth and keeps us from maturing in Christ.
What are your distractions? How will you put them in their rightful place and seek God’s kingdom first?