Change Your Focus To Stay In Focus

When you are slicing through a big loaf of bread, you need first to focus on the relationship of the blade across the loaf to make sure you are straight. Then you shift focus down the side to be cut so that the slice is straight and parallel to the end. (Okay, I have my OCD moments, but stay with the analogy.)

I just finished my second weekend of the season as referee director for a youth soccer tournament. After recruiting and assigning the best referees I have to the appropriate games and making sure that we have certified referees on every game, then I spend my time observing and troubleshooting.

Someone approaches me distraught or angry. I focus on them and their problem/complaint. Then I go to the referee later. I focus on her/him and listen to that side of the story. You have to focus on both sides of a story in order to come to a conclusion about what really happened. Then you deal with corrections or just calming down as the case requires.

Sometimes you are reading difficult material. Maybe from the Bible or from someone’s argument about the meaning of something. You are presented a word or phrase that doesn’t make sense immediately. You should:

A) skip the phrase (and risk missing the meaning of the passage)

B) come to a quick conclusion about the phrase (maybe making up your own interpretation)

C) mark the phrase as difficult and resolve to return to it when you’ve read more

D) change your focus and research that word or phrase (Dr. Google can help, as can a dictionary)

Jesus left us with only a couple of commands. (Not suggestions, directives.) Shortened version–Love God, Love you neighbor. The love your neighbor part is repeated often, say at the end of John.

When we get into disagreements or feel our prejudices rising (requiring self-awareness), we need to change our focus from ourselves to what Jesus said. Maybe the problem concerns people of different races, or different gender, or different lifestyle, or gender identification. When we realize we’re dividing people into groups and developing a theology that says one group is inferior, we need to change our focus and go back to the basics. Love God, love our neighbor.

Our question for ourselves when we are deciding upon such matters is “to what degree is what I am doing reflective of what Jesus commanded me to do?”

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