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Legislation is being considered in the UK to ban all forms of mobile phone usage while driving. It is currently illegal to hold a phone or SatNav while driving, with only hands-free access allowed (e.g. a Bluetooth headset, voice command, a dashboard holder or mat, a windscreen mount or a built-in SatNav), but because of the number of accidents where the distraction of a mobile phone is considered a major factor, even banning the use of hands-free phones is being considered.
In 2015, six hundred and sixty thousand drivers in the United States were estimated to use mobile phones each day, while driving behind the wheel during daylight hours. Mobile phone use while driving has become a leading cause of vehicle crashes over the last two decades. This is not the only potential source of distraction for a driver (as any parent of screaming babies or warring toddlers will testify!), but it is one which can be easily remedied. Remove the source of distraction!
Distraction is one of the enemy’s favourite weapons. It is particularly dangerous to us because it looks so attractive; we are often lured to do something which is good, rather than tempted to do something we know to be dangerous or harmful. In the early church, the growth of the church (something good!) had the potential to become something bad, as Acts 6:1-7 describes.
Church growth led to the problem of the Greek-speaking widows being overlooked in the process of food distribution (Acts 6:1). This was a real problem, because the protection of and provision for widows was a key part of the church’s call to mirror God’s nature and obey God’s laws (see Deut 24:19-21). However, the solution proposed by the apostles recognised the important principle that they should not be distracted from their primary calling (to prayer and the ministry of the word) in order to solve the problem. (Acts 6:2)
It would have been easy for them to seek to solve the problem themselves, but if they had done so, they would have had less time to devote to their primary calling. This is what distraction does to us. It offers us new opportunities for service and leads us down the path of diversion. There will undoubtedly be times when God leads us in new directions and we may well have to be diverted from our everyday routines and jobs. But we need to seek God’s leading in all things and understand our primary calling. The enemy loves to distract us, very often with good causes and new opportunities, but we need wisdom, as Nehemiah showed when the opportunity to leave the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem came up: “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down.” (Nehemiah 6:3) He knew what God had called him to do and he refused to be distracted or diverted from it (with the result that the walls were rebuilt in an incredible 52 days!)
It’s easy for us to look at the apostles and think they were being inflexible. Actually, the solution they proposed (appointing others full of the Holy Spirit to do this work) was wise: delegation is an important strategy, since we all have different giftings and callings and need to use these in God’s service. More than anything, in knowing their calling and role, they demonstrated what is the very essence of success in God. To be successful is simply to do His will, to follow His calling for our lives. That will differ for each one of us, but if we continue with our gaze fixed on Jesus (Col 3:1-3, Heb 12:1-2), we will not be distracted or diverted from the race marked out for us.