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Focusing on the Peripheral

When I was a kid, I was part of a Boy’s Club, similar to Cub Scouts. We did lots

of fun things, including attending an old Buffalo Braves Basketball game together one evening at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. Being boys, we were sometimes more interested in things other than what was being presented and that night was no exception. One of the guys made a paper airplane that must have set a world record.

Being cheap, we were sitting at the very top of the auditorium in the “nose bleed section” near the roof. When my friend let the plane go however, we never would have imagined how long it would stay in the air. Catching updrafts from fans on the floor, the plan circled and circled—bopping up and down—for what seemed like hours before it finally circled and swooped down onto the actual court. It landed under the chair of one of the players.

It was a glorious moment. Still, we were oblivious to the score or the actual details of the game we had paid to see. If our goal was to enjoy professional basketball, the airplane had derailed that. We had missed what was the main point of the evening.

Missing What's "Main"

Over the years, I've noticed that young boys with ADHD aren't the only humans guilty of focusing on the peripheral. That is, all people have a tendency to miss the focus or most important things going on around us because of some "shiny object" or intriguing thing happening in culture or in the media at the time. Even when it comes to the Bible, we get stuck on the question of whether or not angels mated with humans to produce giants in Genesis, but miss what Jesus called the "weightier matters" such as justice, mercy and faith (Matthew 23:23).

In the Bible, I like to say that God is concerned with what is "Main" and "Plain." That is, what is emphasized and what is clear. God is the best communicator in the universe. Thus, what matters to him won't be a brief, obscure reference. Rather, it will appear again and again and again in scripture. Further, if God is concerned with something, it will be clear and not confusing or foggy.

These are the things we should pay attention to. The "squirrel" or peripheral issue might be attractive, but probably a focus on that won't be helpful in the long run. Learning to study the Bible with a passion for what matters to God is the safest and best way to go...

To that end,

Pastor Joel

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