Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "We've A Story To Tell To The Nations"1 (Lyrics)
Colossians 3:1b – Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. (NIV)
Those familiar with stage performance know the term "upstaging". This occurs when a performer pulls the audience's attention toward him or herself while the main focus is elsewhere: An actor stands in front of the one speaking; another exaggerates a movement; an actress dresses too lavishly. Perhaps a young singer suddenly raises her hand to fix her hair while everyone else's hands are held down. She thereby pulls the focus towards herself and away from her choir as a whole.
The theatrical concepts, "upstaging" and "pulling focus", are useful for God's followers. After all, we are each engaged in a cosmic drama: God and His glorious redemptive plan for humanity through Christ. It is tempting to upstage God, as when our focus is centred on ourselves. Really, it's not about us, in ourselves. We are among countless participants in God's glorious drama which began before the beginning of time and continues into eternity. In this drama, God is the central figure. God must never be upstaged — by me, you, or anyone. Yet this happens all the time.
In a stage production, skilful and diligent preparation allows the audience to stay centred on the intended focus of the performance, free from distractions. This involves much rehearsing and planning. The Christian drama, on the other hand, is not a polished stage production. It is life as it unfolds on the stage of everyday happenings. Distractions are part of the script. These testy trials are designed to strengthen our ability to hold the main focus and view everything else in perspective.
Subtle distractions often come through those trying to upstage God. They may believe that they are serving God, but in actuality, they are pulling the focus away from Him and onto themselves. Or they may be resisting God. Consider this verse, and note who is trying to upstage God:
Psalm 40:4 – Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. (NIV)
The psalmist speaks of those who are proud. They don't need God, so God's promises mean little to them. They create their own sideshow, propped up with their false trusts, such as power, wealth, and recognition. Their antics are hard to ignore. Scripture gives the solution, seen in the following verses which point us toward God and urge us to keep our focus on His grand purposes:
Colossians 3:1-3 – Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (NIV)
Philippians 4:8 – Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. (NIV)
Prayer: Dear Lord, help us to grasp the infinite riches of Your promises so that we will be less inclined to upstage You or to get drawn in or troubled by upstagers. May we, instead, be filled with Your unfailing love, so that others may be drawn to You through us — including those who keep trying to upstage You. Amen.