“Simon and his companions searched for him, and when they found him they said, ‘Everyone is looking for you.’ And he said to them, ‘Let’s go on to the neighboring villages so that I may preach there too. This is why I have come.’” (CSB – Read the chapter)
Rick Moranis was one of the more popular actors in Hollywood in the 1980s. He always seemed to play about the same character, but he did it really well. He was always kind of nerdy, courageous when it counted, and incredibly likable. When someone has really hit their stride like that in any profession, the rule is: keep going. It takes too much time, effort, and energy to get there. You don’t break stride for anything. So, what did Moranis do when his wife died unexpectedly and he was left to play single parent to three young kids? He walked away from acting entirely. He understood what Jesus demonstrates here.
Jesus really could have had it all. And quickly too. His compelling teaching style combined with His healing ministry rocketed Him to the top of everybody’s Messiah short list. And even where that didn’t happen, He was still everybody’s favorite for His miracles alone. Just a couple of words and He could have had everything. Every door would have been opened wide for Him to enter.
But that wasn’t why He came.
Jesus was incredibly clear throughout His ministry on what His purpose was. He was not at all ashamed about His mission. He was sent by the Father to proclaim the advent of the kingdom of God. Everything else came second to that one, overriding thing. Anything which added to it or better enabled it to be accomplished He did. Anything else—no matter how good it seemed—He didn’t do. Period.
In this, Jesus demonstrated for us an incredibly important principle. We must always be on guard to not let the good distract us from the great. As we go through our lives, we are going to be given all kinds of opportunities. Some of them will be not so good and clearly ones we should avoid. Others, though, will range from really good to incredible.
When it comes to this latter set, the obvious temptation will be to take them. After all, think about all the good that can be accomplished if we do. Clearly this is a sign of God’s favor and so we should push ahead at full steam. If we miss this opportunity, we may not ever get another one like it. There will be every reason for taking the opportunity and running with it.
Except for one thing: It isn’t what we were called to do. It isn’t what we were called to do and doing it is going to take away from what we were called to do. It may be good, but it is distracting us from great.
Here’s the thing about these opportunities: They are not really opportunities at all. They are temptations right from the devil. He is working his hardest to keep us from the things God has actually called us to do. If feeding us a string of obviously evil things will do the trick, he will. But he is just as content with our doing good things if they keep us from the best ones. Put another way, while big and obvious sin is always nice, keeping us busy will work just as well at keeping us from the kingdom.
So then, it’s time to do some introspection. Just how busy are you? What kinds of things are you busy doing? Are you on track with what God designed you to do, or are you mostly just running around from one good thing to the next, never really having time for the ones that only you can do?
Getting busy is always easier. It is easy—even preferable—to be busy. At least then you’re doing something, and something is better than nothing. But if you get tied up doing something God called someone else to do, you won’t have time for Him. Also, you’ll be taking away the chance for someone else to do what God called them to do. And when these dominos start falling, others soon follow. You soon wind up with a mess on your hands.
Being tempted with a good thing is always challenging. How can you say no to that?!? The answer is: Just like Jesus did. Trust me on this: as you identify what God has called you to do, this is a path that will lead to life every single time. Take it and refuse all the others.