Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Are we suffering from Spiritual ADD?

For years, Attention Deficit Disorder was commonly known as ADD. It is now under a larger umbrella of ADHD with the subcategory of Inattentive ADHD. According to an article on WebMD, the symptoms are:
  • Not paying attention to detail
  • Making careless mistakes
  • Failing to pay attention and keep on task
  • Not listening
  • Being unable to follow or understand instructions
  • Avoiding tasks that involve effort
  • Being distracted
  • Being forgetful
  • Losing things that are needed to complete tasks
It is an inability to focus on the task at hand because you are easily distracted, forgetful or fail to pay attention. 

Is the church suffering from Spiritual ADD? I would define Spiritual ADD as the inability to focus on the mission of the church because we are easily distracted, forgetful or fail to pay attention. The church's mission is defined by the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment in the Law of Moses was, he gave what has widely been called the Great Commandment. Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) reads, "Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’" We define this at First Assembly of God as "Love God, Love People." We "Love God" through our spiritual devotion to Him, worship and discipleship. Loving People happens through our care and outreach ministries. If we are truly going to love people, we have to then execute the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT) reads, "Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The church, the body of Christ, is commanded to reach out to people and disciple them. 

Having an understanding of the mission of the church, are we suffering from Spiritual ADD? We could answer this question from a corporate standpoint or as individuals? The reality is many do suffer from Spiritual ADD. They are unable to focus on the mission of the church because they are easily distracted, forgetful or fail to pay attention.

Let's look at these three symptoms on Spiritual ADD.

1. Easily Distracted

A person or church with Spiritual ADD is easily distracted. The mission of the church is to reach lost people, disciple them, worship God and care for the flock. At times, we can get distracted from the mission for things that have no eternal value. We recently went through a church sanctuary remodel. I was and still am thrilled that we had no one complain about the color of the carpet. Sadly, many churches, get distracted over temporal things such as carpet color. When we get to heaven, no one is going to care what color we decided to make the carpet in 2015 or in 1980. It will not last forever. Other ways we get distracted are:
  • Worship Wars (Contemporary vs. Modern Worship)
  • Pet Programs (This is when we elevate a program into the mission. For example, some prefer Sunday School over Small Groups as a form of discipleship. What is important is that a person is being discipled. Methods change. The Mission doesn't.)
  • Preferences (Cold vs. Hot Temperature, Loud vs. Soft Sound, Chairs vs. Pews, etc)
  • Being Busy (We are consumed by hobbies, work, etc. that it distracts us from our mission.)
These distractions keep us from accomplishing the mission of the church.

2. Forgetful

We forget what our true mission is. Paul was a tentmaker so that he could reach people. Our occupation may pay the bills, but our mission is to reach people for Christ. Our mission in life is not to build a fat retirement account or be on the fast track to CEO. Our mission is to reach people. As we go about our life, which may include building a great career, we need to remember our ultimate mission is to reach people, disciple them, care for others and worship God in whatever we are doing.

3. Fail to Pay Attention

Do we see God at work in our daily lives? One of my graduate professors, Dr. Wayne Lee, called it "the activity of God." We need to see the activity of God. Where is he working and what is he doing? Are we paying attention to the Holy Spirit at work in our world? In the book Nudge: Awakening Each Other to the God Who's Already There, Leonard Sweet writes, "Evangelism for too long has been disconnected from discipleship. In Nudge, evangelism is discipleship. What yokes evangelism to discipleship, I propose, is the art of attention, attending to life and attending to God. The art of attention goes something like this: You have an appointment with God. The address of that appointment? The dress of the next person you meet, whatever it is. Their dress is God’s address. Want to find God? Look in the face of the person next to you or the next person you meet." Are we paying attention to those around us? Are we looking at the next person we meet as a potential appointment from God? Perhaps, we need to learn the lesson Ra's al Ghul taught Bruce Wayne in the motion picture Batman Begins. The lesson was "Always Mind Your Surroundings." Pay Attention to the world around you and see the activity of God! Where is he at work in your world?

Every minute that passes by is one minute closer to eternity and one minute we no longer have to utilize to fulfill our mission. Time is not a reusable or reproducible commodity. Once it has been spent, it is gone. As the body of Christ, we must be about our Heavenly Father's mission. We must Love God and Love People. At the end of our lives, let's not look back with regret from having spent a lifetime suffering from Spiritual ADD. 

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