Attention, Jesus paid for it / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / April 30th, 2023/ Easter Season
Acts 2; John 10; 1 Peter 2
Theme: “Attention, Jesus paid for it”
Intr – I was listening to a radio talk show and this provoking thought came up. The anchor was quoting somebody who made this claim: The biggest addiction crisis in America is not opioids. It is and addiction to attention. Then he went on to describe the four ways in which a person might get try to get the attention needed to mitigate the crave these days:
-Showing your body;
-Being infamous – doing something terrible like shooting rampages;
-Being excellent in what you do;
-Being the victim.
I think I might agree with this claim, at least in some aspects of it. Attention. In one hand, we could point to money and sex, for example, as the god of America, as the god of the world, for sure. And opioids and pornography can be found everywhere as a resource to fill the gap that we all fell inside from time to time. But it sounds to me that craving desperately for an inch of attention, in whatever means possible, seem to define well a good part of the spirit of the time.
It is an addiction to which you and I can also fall prey to. In a world where everybody tries almost everything to feel some sense of worth, we may be also tempted to try our best to be somebody for someone. It can be a very childish way to do so, by the way. Just pay attention to resources children employ to get other people’s attention and compare to the way many adults do. It seems sometimes that the child that we all are expected to cultivate inside us even at and older age sometimes show up in a wrong way. The fact is that attention-seeking is so high valued that many of us ask people to “pay attention”. I know, it’s just and expression, but think about it…pay attention. Perhaps that tells a lot of what goes on in our inner being, in our craving for attention, of being unique and leaving our unique mark in the world. We may be willing even to “pay” to get an inch for attention.
Since craving for attention and meaning in the wrong way can affect all of us, we need a way to deal with it. Should we resort to one of those 4 ways mentioned at the beginning? No, they don’t look like good alternatives. Does the Biblical story offer us a way to confront this narrative? It does, in many ways. As for example, the readings for today:
Acts 2 – we see Christians showing their bodies…up. They showed up for the regular meeting of the Christians. There they received the body and blood of Christ. There they learned they don’t need to show off to be filled with attention.
John 10 – Jesus promises to be our Good Shepherd. The Good Shpeerd never takes his eyes from His fold. His attention to them is already guaranteed. And one of the reasons is that somebody else is always around us, with fill attention: The wolf; The Devil. From Christ you know that The Good Shepherd gives us you His full attention and protects you from the infamous acts of the Wolf.
1 Peter 2 – If we suffer in the world for doing those wrong things to get meaning and attention what profit is in that, asks St Peter?
Now, when stick to Christ and stand in His word, and not on the world’s methods of trying to be somebody, then we know we will get lots of attention, even if one that is not desired. But since in Him we are already somebody - somebody saved by Grace, whose sins are forgiven and whose life is eternal - we know that this is the kind of “profitable” suffering – when we suffer for what is right.
The core message of God’s word then is: In Jesus we have the solution to the attention-addiction and meaning for our life. This is what we need to fill the gap of our existence. All other resources – opioids, pornography, etc… they are like an aspirin to cure cancer. It will never work. Jesus’ attention works because first, he paid for it. He paid with His own blood to divert the attention of the Father from your sins and to give you the caring attention of a Loving Father. Our Father.
Secondly, it inserts you in the larger picture. You belong to the People that has been walking for centuries in this world – the people of God. You belong to the family of God, so you know where you came from, you know Who He is and Who you are. And you know where you are going.
Jesus did all contrary to the attention-craving culture of our time:
-he offered his body on the Cross - and offers it on the altar for us.
-something infamous was done to Him, not the other way around, which He turned it into our eternal good.
-Did He excel in what He did? He didn’t. You know why? There is no human standard to measure it. He is way above of any parameter.
-He didn’t play the victim. He was The Victim, the Suffering Servant; the Shepherd who gave His life to atone for the sins of the whole world, bringing His sheep into His fold.
Think about it: How do you get the attention of a movie star, a high ranked politician, a sports “idol”? It is very hard. They just won’t unless it is for their own profit. Now how would you have God paying attention to you? He is God, Almighty, Eternal, beyond our capacity of our understanding?
Don’t worry. As I said, Jesus already paid for it. When the Holy Spirit Calle you to faith, he gave you 100% of the attention of the Father. He knows you by name, by street, by family, even by the number of the hairs in your head id you still go them. Give attention to His word, give attention to His sacrament, and give attention to your neighbour. These are the way in which both he gives you attention, and you share this attention with an attention seeking world looking for it in al the worn places. And it is for free. We can share God’s attention offer with the world around you. The World needs it.
Cc – The answer to the attention-crisis in our World is in attention given to the Word. Attention given to the One whose full attention is on his Sheep. The Good Shepherd tends for them, guides them and provides them wellbeing. In this Life here, and in the life that will last forever.