Attentiveness In Faith
Concentrating on the person or task before me
To practice Attentiveness I will:
- make eye contact
- ask questions when I do not understand
- set the intention to listen
- not make it about me
- tune out distractions
February is known by many as the month of love, a time of investing our attention into relationships. As Christians, our greatest relationship is Christ and we understand it was given as gift to atone for our sins (John 3:16). Like our earthly relationships, our relationship with Christ begins with gratitude and passion. Over the passage of time, however, we can fall into the habit of taking for granted Christ’s atonement by not returning his love through the gift of our attention, obedience, and devotion.
Matthew 22:1-15 describes what happens when our devotion grows apathetic. Jesus shares the parable about a wedding banquet a king has prepared for his son. First, the king sends his servants to those who were invited but they flat out refuse. He sends more servants to tell the guests that everything is ready, they need but come, but still they pay no attention and go off, each to their own task (v.4-5). If the parable would end here it would be enough to show how we can often lose sight of God’s inclusion in his Kingdom by becoming enamored with our own agendas and yet, the parable continues.
In a brutal turn of events, the rest of the guests don’t just refuse or ignore the invitation, but instead, they seize and kill the messengers. Here the reaction to the invitation of welcome has escalated from indifference to offense. They feel threatened and decide that threat needs eliminated. The guests decide to completely silence the invitation by killing the messengers.
The guests are not saved by their desperate attempt. The king, enraged by their hardened hearts, sends an army to destroy the murderers and burns the city (Matt. 22:7). They are destroyed because of their wicked reaction. The parable ends with Jesus proclaiming, “For many are invited by few are chosen” (v. 14).
As Christians, we are chosen to be a part of the kingdom of God (John 15:19). But like these invited guests, we can become distracted with the kingdoms we have built for ourselves. When we lose our focus on Christ and are confronted with an invitation into his presence, our reactions can vary from flat refusal (Matt. 22:3), to indifference (v. 5) or even to violent offense (v. 6) depending on the level of our heart’s distraction.
But our inattention does not need to end in destruction. In view of God’s mercy, we offer ourselves as living sacrifices to the Lord, which is our true and proper worship, not conforming to the ways of this world by building our own kingdoms but allowing our minds to renewed and transformed by God (Romans 12:1-2 paraphrased) so that we may truly act out the Greatest Commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and all our mind (Matt. 22:37).
This month, meditate on the parable of Matthew 22 and examine your heart for secret kingdoms. Is there something drawing more of your attention and devotion than Christ?