I have been a believer in Jesus for almost 33 years. During that time, I have lost my focus on Jesus on more than one occasion. I am grateful that He is more focused than I am. It is because of these experiences that my whole perspective on the Christian life is different than it once used to be. Over the years I have focused on things like knowing the Bible, getting rid of sin in my life, and doing good works. Now on the surface those things sound like good things don’t they? They are good things in the right perspective, but none of those things are the goal of the Christian life. The goal of the Christian life is developing and maintaining your intimate relationship with Jesus. All of these other things are secondary to this. So in this post I hope to encourage you to keep or to once again put your focus on Jesus.
The primary focus on Jesus scripture.
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Where you are focused is where you will head.
Have you ever noticed that if you keep looking at something that eventually you will start veering in that direction? Having been a truck driver for 23 years I had many times where I would see something interesting happening away from the road and I would start looking at it. Invariably the truck would start to drift in that direction. This was not a good thing! The same is true for our spiritual life. What we focus on is the direction we will head. If we focus on sin, invariably we will head in the direction of sin. If we focus on trials, invariably we will become burdened with those trials, and even if we focus on good works, or even Bible reading then invariably our focus will drift to those things.
Now good works are great! And learning and understanding the Bible is foundational to the Christian life. But we do not have a personal relationship with the Bible. We do not base our relationship with Jesus on good works. But if those things become our focus, our goals, then we are missing the mark and we are heading for a collision.
Why focusing on sin is destructive.
Have you ever seen a cedar fence with a knot hole in it? Of course you have. I have passed by hundreds of fences with holes in them. I have never once been tempted to look in that hole. However if you had a fence with a knot hole in it with a big circle around it saying do not look in this hole, what would you do? Curiosity would cause you to want to look in that hole. By putting the circle around it and saying do not look, the person caused you to focus on that knot hole. It is the same way with sin. If we focus on sin, or even getting rid of sin, then what we are doing is putting our focus on it, and we are increasing the temptation to sin. The goal of the Christian life is not to become sinless. If that were the case then God would have given us a futile goal and if it were possible then Jesus would never had to come and be crucified for us. We could achieve sinlessness ourselves. Now some would say that if we do not focus on sin then we are promoting licentiousness. No, it is not promoting licentiousness, it is just not giving sin power over us. It is refusing to help sin have control by focusing on it.
Why the Bible is not meant to be our focus.
The Bible is the word of God. Listen to the words of Paul to Timothy concerning the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
The Bible is an instrument used by God. It teaches us how to live the Christian life. It is however not God. It is not Jesus. It points us to Jesus. When we have our focus on the Bible we are replacing an the living God with an object. When this was done with other things this was called idolatry. When we do it with the Bible I call it Bibliolatry. It is making the Bible an idol. Our relationship is with the living Jesus, not His book. Your relationship is not with a book, it is with Jesus. Now all of us should read and learn what the book says because it points us to Jesus, teaches us what Jesus said, how to have a relationship with Jesus, and is used by Jesus to speak back to us, but it is not Jesus. When our focus is on becoming Bible scholars, then our focus is off. Our focus should be in knowing Jesus intimately and becoming more like him, not filling ourselves up with more head knowledge. Seriously, we have way too many people that have head knowledge of the Bible and do not spend 5 quality minutes getting to know the living Jesus personally.
We have entire denominations filled with people who pride themselves in being the greatest Bible teachers in the world. They have the exclusive take on all the Bible has to say, yet these same denominations ignore things like loving like Jesus loved, loving your neighbor as yourself, and doing unto others as you would have done to you. These basic principles of who Jesus was are ignored. They have the knowledge, but they have not spent much time with the master.
Why it is important to focus on Jesus only.
The writer of the book of Hebrews states that Jesus is the one that initiates and perfects our faith. Another version says that He is the author and finisher of our faith. Jesus is the one that starts you on your Christian path and Jesus is the one that will perfect your Christianity. It is not your efforts that will accomplish this. It is Jesus who does the work. The way this happens is by you hanging out with Jesus or by having your focus on Jesus. Have you ever gone to another country or part of your country where people spoke with a different accent? Have you noticed that it doesn’t take much time at all for you to start picking up on that accent? You start acting and speaking like those you are around. This is just human nature. When you start hanging out with Jesus and have your focus on a personal and intimate relationship with Him, you start picking up on what He does. You start to take on His values, His character, and His nature. He is the one who will speak to your heart and show you that He doesn’t care what you think about another’s sin, He cares about something that is going on in your life that needs to be changed. He is the one who will show you what is really important to Him. He is the one who will enable you with the power to really live like He did, because He will change you from the inside out. He will change your appetites and taste for things.
This happened to me in a very big way. I used to be very into hyped up worship services where there was a lot of energy and excitement. Then one day the Lord spoke to me in one of these services and had me look at the people. He had me look at their focus. They were not concentrating on Him. Their eyes were not closed looking to Him. They were not on their knees and their eyes were dry. I realized that their focus was on the emotion that they were receiving from the music and that they were not focused on Jesus. Heartfelt praise and worship produces a reaction in people that can be seen in body language. Their lips were mouthing the right words, but their hearts were focused elsewhere. I no longer have a taste for worship that is good on the outside but empty on the inside. My desire now is for authentic worship. Worship that has it’s focus on Jesus.
Just focus on Jesus
Please understand that I am not beating up on you if you have had your focus on something else. Each of these things I have done at one point of my life or another. If anything, just allow someone who is a fellow traveler on the journey of faith, to speak to you and encourage you. God has not kept me for these 32+ years for nothing. I have learned a few things that can be passed on to others. Put your focus on Jesus. Get back to the simple goal of Christianity. Make it your life’s purpose to be known as Peter and John were known, as men who had been with Jesus.
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
This article was first published on my website Taber's Truths