Minutes With Messiah Logo

Get Off the Phone

by Tim O'Hearn

Recently the United States Congress chose not to ban cell phones while driving cars. This was in spite of recent research that says that five times as many people die each year as a direct result of driving with cell phones as died from faulty Firestone Tires. Congress said that there were so many other distractions that affected drivers as well, like putting on make-up or eating.

All this serves to point out that distractions can be hazardous to one's health. How many of us (yes, me too) have been walking along and looked at a distraction only to run into a wall, a tree, or some other obstacle? Don't tell me it never happened to you; lying is a sin.

Speaking of sin, that is a distraction as we walk the path God wants of us. Even in this day of ready light at night time we often try to move around in the dark, and sometimes stumble thereby. The people of Christ's time understood this even more. John used this example to point out the difference between sin and faithfulness, between hate and love.

He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:10-11)

Every day we are faced with distractions. One of them may be hatred, as indicated by John. Ezekiel 7:19 says that gold and silver may be our distraction, keeping us from obeying God. Ezekiel also spoke of idols as distractions, calling them "the stumblingblock of their iniquity" (Ezek 14:3). All these we might consider the readily avoidable distractions. Surely we don't bow down to a statue or rely on our money for salvation. We never hate anybody; at least not anybody we have actually met. And yet we let our minds be distracted by "lesser" things.

"I just don't have the time to read my Bible," someone says while watching the latest murder and sex on "NYPD Blue" or the nightly news. "I would like to attend the assembly of the saints more often, but I have to work two jobs to make ends meet," says the man driving the Mercedes.

Nobody said the distractions had to be sinful of themselves. A distraction from obeying God becomes sinful, even if intrinsically neutral. At least, that is what Paul told the Romans and the Corinthians.

But meat commendeth us not to God: for neither, if we eat, are we the better; neither, if we eat not, are we the worse. But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. (1 Cor 8:8-12; a similar passage is in Romans 14)

Food, even that offered to idols, is not sinful. But Paul had a word for distracting a brother by what one eats-that word was "sin."

When we talk about cell phones we may say with the bumper sticker, "Get off the phone or get off the road." But in our Christian walk we can't afford to get off the road. That leaves the other option. Get off the phone; ignore the distractions and "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." (Phil 3:14)