According to a July 2021 article in the Orlando Sentinel, the average attention span for a human being is now eight seconds. Interestingly, this total is down from a twelve-second daily attention span in the year 2000. If this calculation is accurate then in the minute-and-a-half that it might take to read this article, our attention will be diverted away a minimum of eleven times! Why is this? I suppose some would blame our current climate: its smartphones, the 24-hour news cycle, social media, or politics. While there are certainly many things that distract us, I believe the number one reason that it is hard to stay focused sometimes is that we are human.
Frequently in Scripture readers are called to focus or pay attention to the things that are most important. God’s Word repeats divine instruction and recalls teachings that have already been delivered because the reality is that people often pull their focus away from the things that matter the most. It is because of this reality, and the fact that since the beginning of the pandemic early in 2020 there has been a lot of things vying for our attention, that the Estes elders have determined that our congregational theme for 2022 will be “On Things Above.” This phrase comes from Colossians 3:1-2 where the apostle Paul by inspiration wrote, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
While “the things on earth” must be noted and dealt with, it is the things above that are to be primary focus of God’s people. In the context of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, those Christians were dealing with all sorts of distractions, including the ungodly works (Col. 3:5-7) and words (Col. 3:8-9) that defined earthly things. Paul did not encourage these readers to give up on being godly or to completely disengage from their daily engagements, but instead he challenged them to change their focus. Look to the things of God, not worldly things that are just temporary and terrible.
God’s Word is still as relevant now as it has ever been (Heb. 4:12). As we begin a new year, may we strive to focus on things above. May we desire to be a people who do not dwell on the things of earth. May our attitudes and actions reflect eternal perspectives. May we set our attention spans, however short they may be, on spiritual things that always return to the Word of God for a centering in the things that matter the most. May we strive to build up others within the body of Christ, while also sharing the good news of Jesus with as many people as possible. Father, help us to focus on things above.