Back in the late ‘90s, when my friend lost her battle with breast cancer, I channeled my grief into raising large amounts of money for a well-known agency in her memory. I gathered people and organized walk-teams and matching T-shirts. I watched as thousands of others gathered to do the same. While this maybe was a good thing, in some ways, I now see that maybe this wasn’t the best thing.
Idols of Distraction
As another month starts, we often hear about the designated issue of awareness for that month. I’ve heard promptings to wear various colored ribbons, certain colored clothing or hats and, most recently, to draw a symbol on my hand in recognition of a certain awareness day. While I agree that education about current hot topics and problems are important for us all, I can’t help but wonder if we’re devoting enormous amounts of time and energy to “good” things that perhaps are subtly taking us away from better uses of our time on mission for Christ. Are our pursuits of “awareness building” actually building idols of distraction?
An Issue of Our Own Awareness
As a Christian, my focus should be on Jesus. Loving Him with all my heart, mind, and soul is undoubtedly a full-time endeavor — and He intended it to be. While Jesus called us to care for the oppressed and to protect and provide for those in affliction, we sometimes call more attention to wrongdoing than we do to the provision and healing part of His call. Is Jesus impressed that I’ve coordinated matching T-shirts to expose the most recent popular sin issue or health crisis? Hasn’t His Word already confirmed all of the tribulations we would experience in this world? Is Jesus impressed that I’ve drawn a symbol on my hand to point out that others have sinned and that this sin exists? This seems uncomfortably close to what Satan does in accusing everyone about their sin and distracting from his own. If there was a “sin awareness” month, what would our individual attire be for that? The hard truth is that Matthew 7:1–5 calls us to our own “sin awareness day” each and every day. How, my friends, are we addressing that?
A Necessary Shift
Missionary Frank Laubach once said, “Let the things we oppose die of neglect.” As Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8 to focus on that which is pure, lovely of good report, and worthy of praise, I think there is wisdom in what Dr. Laubach writes. Perhaps we need a shift in focus. Perhaps I need a shift. Have I been as excited about creating disciples as I have about creating “awareness”? Have I focused more on the problem than in directly reaching out to assist the ones afflicted by it? Has my energy been used more to discuss issues, or rather to diffuse issues by starving sin from unnecessary attention?
Regardless of what the issue is and how “hot” it is on my mind or on others, my awareness in this day needs to be on loving my Savior and my neighbor. And perhaps this is a better use of my time than creating more awareness of all the hurt and pain that only my Savior can appropriately address anyway. He’s the cure. And for that, for Him, I will run that race well.
Photo credit: JD Hancock