Jesus Is Reality Beyond All Distractions
By: Jimmy Spencer
Jimmy grew up in the Bay Area and has been following Christ for four years. He has worked in professional sports for 12 years, currently doing NBA writing and radio for Fox Sports. He is also a senior product manager at a startup in San Francisco. He and his wife Heidi lead CG in Cow Hollow and have been a part of the Reality SF community since 2010. Jimmy has been immersed in our study of John, so we asked for his thoughts on the following question: How has seeing Jesus as the ultimate reality changed the way you live in and interact with your city?
Do you remember what that sounds like?
For a while, I’m not sure I did.
The life around me can become one sweeping distraction. My days feel like an unwieldy blindfold, made up of empty coffee cups, undefeated checklists and a buzzing iPhone.
It’s an overload that makes me want to run out to the beach and bury my head in that fog-covered sand.
San Francisco is a swamp of diversion. Work days are a fight to keep afloat, evenings are an invite to a new restaurant or event, and weekends are even more flooded with obligations to festivals, picnics, parties, more dinners, grocery shopping, cleaning and whatever errands are screaming to be attended to.
Through it all, there’s a demand from our culture to at least act as if we can keep it all together. To be busy is to be successful, or at least popular, right? In reality, it can feel like the busyness is crushing down on my soul. There’s only time to briefly pause, maybe in front of a mirror, to see if I can hide my disheveled mess under a Patagonia label or a Giants hat.
But it’s time that I stop. To Breathe. And to take off the heavy blindfold.
It’s time to look to Jesus.
My peace begins with the first words of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). There’s such tranquility in that first line. When I visualize God, and only God, before the frantic winds of our culture and pain, I see a peacefulness. I imagine a deep blue color sitting on the horizon of the world, with only land and water. It brings me serenity.
It pauses me… You know, before I’m thrown right back to the chaos.
But what I’m coming to see, through a study of John, is to accept that chaos in my life. My life doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to God. And He has me living in the same muddied land that Jesus stepped right into in John.
It’s healthy and necessary for me to dwell in the stillness of God. It’s that momentary pause that offers a peaceful reminder of what we all long for. When that pause is over though, I need to see it not as something to avoid but to embrace.
It’s a reminder that we’re not called to simply rest. We’re here to do the mission of God.
Embrace the busy. Just make sure it’s coming from the right places.
Jesus is the perfect example of this. Jesus slipped away to take quiet time and pray. He found his peace in a lonely place away from the frenzy of outside voices and plans. Then, He put on his sandals and went to work. Throughout John, Jesus is a man in action, a man on mission. He is serving, teaching, healing, moving and listening.
Jesus is our reality. He is what is true, above all other distractions. Acting in the character of Jesus is acting in God’s reality, not man’s.
To be born again (John 3:3) means to understand our current surroundings but to be of a different spirit than that around us. God has brought us into the rush of this city, into the brokenness of the people who live here and He has called us to serve.
Serving God doesn’t feel like a distraction. Serving Him feels like peace.
For me, it becomes an effort to make the rush of my days more meaningful. It’s about examining how my days are filled and doing what is possible to make those moments inherently about the mission of God. It’s about praying for discernment about what is of God and what is of this world.
This doesn’t mean I am necessarily called to change the word — evangelizing on street corners or setting up nonprofits throughout San Francisco — but it means being in step with God through a long walk of obedience and relationship with Him. It means that I am open to serve him as He calls me and not letting distraction drown out His voice.
When I first came to understand the character of Jesus just four years ago, I remember being so struck by the reality of who Jesus was. Nothing else mattered to me at the time other than unearthing every detail of God and what He was doing. I could not be, and was not, distracted by anything else. Around Easter that first year as a Christian, I emailed my Grandmother to tell her about my renewed faith. Her response was so profound: “Remember there is so much more to this life than all the shallow and distracting things that surround us.”
How true. She passed away just more than a year ago, and when I read those words at her funeral, I promised myself I wouldn’t forget them. I would no longer be pushed off course by those shallow and distracting things. Just as I felt as a new believer, I wanted to dedicate my time to a greater cause than my own vanity.
But guess what? It’s hard. So hard.
The world swallows us up every moment that we lose sight of Jesus’ reality. But I have faith that I can do better to remind myself of God’s greater purpose for me. I know I can step out of the muck and take refuge in God. That I can be delivered from all that pursues me, to not be torn apart by the lions of this world (Psalm 7:1-2).
I want to be active. I want to be busy. But I want my work to be focused on bringing God’s will to my family and community of San Francisco. Just as Jesus healed a blind man (John 9), He can remove the blindfold of distraction that keeps us from doing God’s will.
Yes, it’s difficult; it takes prayer, intention and community. But I pray that we can look to Jesus more than we look to ourselves.
I pray that we all are able to pause and find peace by turning directly to Jesus, wading away from unhealthy distractions into a life dedicated to serving God’s kingdom.
This piece is a part of our Journey Through John blog series, that invites our community to share their personal reflections through our study in the book of John. For more posts, visit our table of contents. To connect with Jimmy, please feel free to email him.