Thinking Out Loud

January 22, 2010

When is a Distraction a Distraction?

II Timothy 2:4 is an interesting verse.    It says,

No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer.  (NIV)

Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.  (NLT)

A soldier wants to please the enlisting officer, so no one serving in the army wastes time with everyday matters.   (NCV)

A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders.  (Message)

No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him.  (Amplified)

I think the intent of this verse is rather clear.

In some of the advertising for this blog, I’ve used the phrase “faith focused.”   I don’t spend a lot of time talking about my family, or cute things the cat does, or some new technology breakthrough, or my affection for a particular sports team.   (The latter, in my case, being next to impossible.)

But sometimes the oddest things come to mind as possible blog topics.   Today it was when one of the compact fluorescent bulbs in our dining room stopped working.    This happens with great regularity, while the old-school incandescent bulbs seem to — like the Energizer bunny — keep on going.

The problem is that in the jurisdiction where we live, incandescent bulbs are being outlawed.    The compact fluourescents are to become the standard at some point over the next two years because they are better for the environment.     But they aren’t.

  • As we’re clearly seeing, they simply don’t last nearly as long as advertised, and this at something like ten times the price of their predecessors.
  • They cannot be disposed of in normal garbage.

I won’t even begin to mention the headaches they cause, the allegations of skin problems, and the fact that you can’t allow young children to stare directly at them without risk of partial blindness.

So for me, this is a justice issue.   It’s a moral issue.  People are being hoodwinked into buying a product they can’t afford in order to gain a benefit that isn’t there.   (Perhaps I should have added, “…by a government whose motives are suspect.”)   And aren’t we as Christians supposed to “do justice and love mercy?”   Aren’t we supposed to take a stand against oppression in particular and wrong in general?

I wrestled with this years ago concerning the issue of chemical weed spray treatment of lawns and gardens.   I wasn’t a rabid environmentalist, but I soon became one when I looked at the impact on health when allowing the pesticide and herbicide industry to operate unbridled.

I’ve known other Christians who got involved in the issue of non-smokers rights.    I know it doesn’t rank way up there with the pro-life movement, but I can see it as a kind of  “justice” or “fairness” issue that some believers would want to grapple with.   A non-smoker can’t walk into a smoker’s den and “interfere” by filling the room with fresh air, but the smoker can eradicate everyone else’s breathable air in just seconds.

Or are these things all distractions?   Should religious people in general retreat to the sacred hills and not engage discussions of secular interest?  Should I write only about the verses in last night’s Bible study, the latest praise and worship chorus, and challenges facing the modern church, and just not weigh in at all on other subjects?

Andy Davey – At The Dying of the Light

3 Comments »

  1. hmmm… I live in the same jurisdiction as you.. my flourescents last forever compared to my incandescents.. perhaps it is your wiring? .. just a thought.

    …more to the topic.. it is certain that we should get involved in justice and mercy issues, as long as justice and mercy are defined but God and His word, not by what we or our culture dictate are justice and mercy(yes, sometimes they overlap, sometimes not). But we dare not confuse the issues with Christianity, lest we politicize Christianity.. which leads to equating a ’cause’ (pro-life, pro-family, conservative politics, being ‘green’) with being a Christ follower. The cause always comes out of love for Christ and his desire to see his kingdom come.. if we are walking in relationship with Him, it is that relationship which dictates and directs our energy and efforts.. and brings His kingdom to this earth… My C$.02

    Comment by tim — January 23, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

    • Tim,
      Good thoughts. Worth far more than C$.02! Our ’causes’ can be born out of Christian compassion, but then can easily overshadow our basic discipleship and core spiritual disciplines. Left unchecked, they can become the thing that defines us. I think that the wider concerns are part of growing in grace, but we’re actually told to “Grow in grace AND in the knowledge of our lord Jesus Christ.” (II Peter, last verse.) I think that social concern can walk alongside spiritual formation, but there’s a danger if one outpaces the other.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 23, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

  2. To “Dregs of Society”

    Yes. You’re right. Your comment was completely off topic.

    Not here. Not now.

    Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 24, 2010 @ 4:32 pm


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