In the year 2021, what would you say is the most sought-after commodity in the world? One source I found suggested these: Oil. Coffee. Natural gas. Gold. Silver. Sugar. Corn. Wheat. Cotton. I’m sure they’ve crunched the numbers and I don’t dispute their conclusions.
But, while it may not be a commodity according to the strict definition of the word, I’d like to suggest one that I think may top them all: your attention. Mass media, news outlets, streaming entertainment services, online retailers, social media platforms, “content creators,” “influencers.” What’s the one thing they are all desperately competing for? Your attention. Your views. Your clicks. Your likes.
Is it any surprise that we are the most distracted generation yet to exist on earth?
In chapter 2 of Luke, we come to one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, the birth of Jesus, and one of the things it reveals to us is what has the rapt attention of the angels in heaven. On that night, the tiny, unassuming town of Bethlehem, “too little to be among the clans of Judah” had no one’s earthly attention. But in a moment, as a multitude (that’s a whole lot!) of God’s angelic host pull back the curtain of the spiritual realm for a small band of night-shift shepherds, the skies explode with glory and the songs of heaven ring out:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14)
After hundreds of years of waiting, God’s promised One has finally arrived to accomplish “things into which the angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). The shepherds run to find this baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in manger and they look on with the proud parents in awe and wonder. And then they leave “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen,” calling anyone who will listen to turn their attention to the news of God with us, Emmanuel.
That’s what had the rapt attention of the hosts of heaven that night. What has their fixed attention today? Paul tells us, in Ephesians 3, that it’s the outworking of that good news in all the world, through the body of Christ, His church, that the angels can’t look away from.
“Of this gospel I was made a minister… to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 3:7–10)
Don’t miss that! As the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (those are the angels) are watching everything taking place on the earth right now, what holds their highest attention and produces their greatest wonder is how God is making His manifold wisdom known to the world through His humble, sinful-yet-redeemed, Spirit-dependent Church, “a people for His own possession [who] proclaim the excellencies of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
This Sunday Rob Lister will be preaching Luke 2:1-21 and Kenny Clark will be leading our sung worship. Please pray for each as they prepare.
As you prepare your heart to gather for worship this Sunday, what has the greatest hold on your attention? If it’s not aligned with the angels, let’s repent of that and ask God to capture us in a fresh way this week with His manifold glory and the most important thing that’s happening on planet earth right now. Ask Him to spread the spirit of the shepherds into our hearts to be people who glorify and praise God for all that we have heard and seen, calling those around us to turn their attention to Jesus.
See you Sunday, Grace. Come hungry!
Song Link of the Week
He Shall Reign Forevermore by Matt Maher
Here within a manger lies
The One who built the starry skies
This baby born for sacrifice
Christ, the Messiah
Into our hopes, into our fears
The Savior of the world appears
The promise of eternal years
Christ, the Messiah