Clearing the Noise

White noise is the noise that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing. White noise is great if you are trying to block out other sounds with the same wave frequency. White noise is a pain if you have something important to listen to and you can’t hear it over the white noise. Some of the most common uses of white noise are when we have background noise. For example, some people like to have a fan running when they are going to sleep. The low hum of the fan supposedly helps them go to sleep. Other people enjoy the television or music playing in the background while they do house chores, read or study.

There is so much white noise in our lives, intentional and unintentional, that silence is almost deafening. I would dare guess that most people do not enjoy the silence because it is uncomfortable in comparison to all of the noise they are used to hearing in the background all day, everyday.

The apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1-2, “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Our identity is in Christ. Through the gospel, we are identified with Jesus. Through Jesus, we have gone from being objects of God’s wrath (Eph 2:1-3) to becoming children of God (John 1:12). We have a new identity. We have a new hope. We have a new way of thinking.

In v 2, Paul wrote that our new way of seeing ourselves and our lives necessitates a new way of thinking. We need to see life from heaven’s point of view. He wrote that we are to “set our minds on things above.” It speaks of concentration. We should be striving to pull heaven’s priorities into our daily lives. The word set is a present imperative. This means it is to be happening in the present tense and it is imperative (a must, a command). Setting our minds on things above is an ongoing effort. The practical, everyday matters of life are to get their direction from Jesus and not from anyone or anything else.

Paul’s reference to things above is to that which has to do with Jesus’ sovereign reign over the universe. The point is not to think on heaven, but to think on Christ who is in heaven. The writer of Hebrews penned it this way, “Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrew 12:1b-2).

Our mindset is a deliberate act of the will. We set our minds on taking a vacation. When we do we put all of our focus and effort on getting ready for vacation. We adjust our budgeting to make the finances available. We work extra hard the week or two leading up to the vacation to make sure we are ready to be away from work for several days. We do extra tasks around the house so we come home to a clean house rather than coming home to housework on the heels of vacation. In the same way, we can set our minds on Christ. We can adjust our lives so that we budget time to spend seeking Jesus in prayer and Scripture intake. We can prioritize being in corporate worship so that we are setting our minds and hearts to heaven at the start of each week. We can adjust our financial budget so that we are investing in ministry and serving others that moves God’s Kingdom forward.

In my small group at church recently, we discussed ways we can reduce the white noise that is competing for our attention and affections. Here’s what we came up with:

  • Eliminate Distractions … Distractions such as the news broadcasts, social media and any other source of information that tends to create anxiety and angst in our hearts and minds. If it does not help move my heart and mind to Jesus then I need to work to eliminate (or at least reduce) it.
  • Go for a Walk … Physical activity is helpful for getting away from the noises competing for our attention and creating a time margin in our lives that allows our minds to rest and reset toward God. These are great times for prayer and meditation on Scripture. Turn on that worship playlist in your iTunes or the sermon podcast from your pastor.
  • Read the Bible … Fight to keep your mind filled with God’s truth. Implement ways each day to read and think on Scripture. Use a daily Bible reading plan through the Bible app on your phone, listen to sermons, read quality devotional material such as My Utmost for His Highest.
  • Listen to Worship Music … Music is a great encouragement. Music has a strong impact on our emotions. Understanding this should cause us to be careful about what we listen to each day. I also believe that our worship on Sundays would be enhanced if we spent more time listening to and singing worship music throughout the week.

The white noise distractions are only going to continue increasing. Life tends to move toward greater complexity rather than gravitating toward simplicity. We must be proactive (present tense and imperative) in setting our minds on things above and not being sidetracked by earthly things.

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