December 19, 2014
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Did you realize Jesus’ very first sermon was only three sentences; a mere 17 words.
“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
In that short span he lifts high THE PRIORITY through a clarion call to movement.
It’s really the same message we began the week with: But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you. Matthew 6:33.
Today’s text echoes, no, it amplifies THE PRIORITY in the clearest of terms. The many-ness and much-ness of priorities hinder us. We must throw them off. The distraction of sin entangles us. We must throw it off. This is what it means to repent. It’s about discarding the good for the sake of the best and ditching the bad for the sake of the glorious.
Repentance, contrary to popular opinion, has absolutely nothing to do with shame-laden, self-absorbed, behavior management approaches. Repentance is about fixing our gaze on the Beautiful. . . . every single day. And when something gets in the way of that, which it will, it means recovering a clear line of sight and going for the kingdom again. There’s absolutely no room for shame and condemnation and all the other garbage that gets passed off as the Christian faith.
While I don’t always see eye to eye with John Piper, I do respect him deeply. Something I have heard him say on repeated occasions completely captures the essence of what RESET and Priority and Repentance means. He puts it this way, “Don’t waste your life!” There are so many good things and bad things to waste a life on. The only way to avoid it is to give ourselves in all things to the One who will give us everything. The Beautiful One- Jesus.
So what does it mean to keep our eyes “fixed” on him? It’s not mustering up some kind of warm fuzzy spiritual feeling of devotion. It doesn’t mean becoming a religious zealot. It doesn’t mean becoming one of those “holier than thou” people. To keep our eyes fixed on him means becoming his student, a life long learner of him. We have an extraordinary record of his preexistence, incarnation, birth, life, words, deeds, miracles, signs, betrayal, suffering, passion, death, burial, resurrection, teaching, ascension and promised return. It is written down in a book. We have it.
To fix our eyes on him means to make him our singular priority by seeking him, studying his every move, hanging on his every word, marveling at his every work, beholding the frailty of his humanity washing feet, bowing at the majesty of his divinity raising the dead, following closer, closer, closer until our eyes develop the capacity to see him in the hungry and the stranger and the prisoner and the homeless. . . . . and until our lives begin to take on the Holy Spirit infused skill of imitating him, improvising on his ways, taking on his mindset, losing ourselves in his mercy and finding our lives through his faith. He is the pioneer, the perfecter. He will do it.
This is what it looks like to “fix” our eyes on him. It means literally, to be fixated on the Beautiful.
I’ve got to stop for now. ;0)
PEOPLE GET READY! JESUS IS COMING.
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