The question came up not long after I’d bypassed the carrots and broccoli in favor of a fudge brownie and chocolate-dripped donut.
“How do we shut out bad influences so we can stay close to God?” asked a woman seated in the discussion circle.
The group agreed: God can be pushed out of our lives by the day-to-day stuff. We get distracted so that worship and presence are something we treasure on Sundays but can’t seem to grab during the week.
As it generally does, the ideas drifted to media. Wasn’t it disgusting, one woman said, how Oprah has designed her own religion? Wasn’t it awful, said another, what was shown in movies these days?
“This is such a ‘me first’ culture we live in,” said another. “Do we spend as much time with God as we spend relaxing?”
That takes a lot of discipline, the group decided. It’s not so easy.
As I fingered the brownie on my plate, I thought about Solomon, who started well in God’s wisdom and then tailed off. I remembered an ancient writer who said, “let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us.” (Heb 12:1)
When I laid off common sugar for awhile, I had new energy. Life looked brighter while I felt healthy and strong.
Solomon chose common wisdom, tailspinning into depression and idolatry.
He could have stripped off every weight that slowed him down. He could have chosen God’s wisdom over alliances and wives.
How do we shut out the bad influences so that we can stay close to God?
For me, I exchanged the chocolate on my plate for fresh veggies. How about you?