In photography, the photographer focuses on a particular object and draws the eye to certain things; how a photograph is framed or composed gives a definite focus to how we look at the photo.

In this photo, the rose is the focus of our attention, with the rest of the church (including the cross) intended as background:

Rose in focusIn this photo, however, the church hall is the focus of our attention, with the rose as background.

rose out of focusAll too often, we spend our lives in the now, focussing only on what is immediately before us, failing to see the ‘bigger picture.’ Luke 12:16-21 tells a parable about a rich man whose focus was wrong. By focussing only on the prospect of riches and a life of ease, he failed to contemplate eternity. We can focus on riches, reputation or other people, and fail to think about God. The present reality we see, however, is only part of the picture. Ps 40:4 in the Message Version says ‘Blessed are you who give yourselves over to God, turn your backs on the world’s “sure thing,” ignore what the world worships; the world’s a huge stockpile of God-wonders and God-thoughts.’ We have to refuse to buy the lie that the world sells as our main focus and refocus on God.

Col 2:22-3:4 reminds us that the things of this world are destined to perish, and we need to fix our hearts and minds on things above. We have to know what our goal or purpose is in life and we need to allow God to direct our focus. A good way of discerning where our priorities lie is to look at where we willingly spend our time. As Jesus reminded us (Matt 6:19-21), where our treasure is, there our heart is. We are called to love God whole-heartedly (Mark 12:30) and must have a clear focus on God, for it is all too easy not to have in mind the things of God (see Matt 16:21-23).

God works with each one of us both individually and collaboratively, rather like a conductor directs and holds the orchestra together. We can’t see the whole picture, but must rely on the Holy Spirit to have that bigger picture in view and to direct us into what we should be doing. We have to be single-minded in our pursuit of God, allowing both what we seek and think to be focussed on God. A zoom lens on a camera can focus on even the smallest detail, but sometimes in the process, it’s easy to lose sight of the whole. We need to allow God to be at the centre of our lives so that our focus is on Him; that way, we can be sure not to get lost and lose our focus.