The other day, I was spending a lot of time on my iPhone—checking email, posting on social media, and reading articles on ESPN. There’s nothing wrong with those activities per se, but they are all self-focused. When I’m on my iPhone, I’m not engaged with others or even noticing what’s happening around me. I’m locked into my own thing and focused on that.
Technology and Self-Focus
One of the problems I have noticed about technology is that we’re less other-focused. Sometimes we don’t even notice other people that pass through our lives. We’re not as in tuned with the needs of others. We miss out on opportunities to help and bless others. Sometimes we don’t even look people in the eyes and say hello.
Jesus and Zacchaeus
One thing I love about the person of Jesus is that he always seemed to be on the lookout for people in need. He was consistently engaging with others—teaching, healing, helping, and encouraging.
One of my favorite stories about Jesus describes his interaction with a tax collector named Zacchaeus. Here’s how the story goes: Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:1-10).
Jesus on the Lookout
Notice how Jesus was on the lookout. He wasn’t rushing through Jericho, locked into his iPad. He was looking around, noticing his surroundings. He was open to meeting someone who might need his help. To the surprise of the crowd, the person who needed help that day was a tax collector named Zacchaeus.
Slow Down and Look Out
In your own life, slow down and be open to what God might have for you today. Put the phone or computer away and notice your surroundings. Look people in the eye, ask how they are doing, and really listen. See if there might be one person today that you could encourage or help. Be on the lookout for people in need.
Discussion: When you think about your focus, are you more self-focused or more other-focused? Could you try, just for today, to put away your devices and be on the lookout for people in need?