Are you more focused on what you have to do for Jesus, or what Jesus has done for you? In this message, we talk about the importance of focusing on the absolutes of the kingdom.
Alright, hey, everybody, welcome to Valley Creek, wherever you are. I am so glad that you are here with us today, hope is here, everyone is welcome, Jesus changes everything. And I am so grateful for what God is doing in our church right now. You can sense it, you can feel it, God is moving, people are getting healed, people are getting saved, there are stories of life change, and breakthroughs, momentum, a fresh win, a fresh breath. And so wherever you are, and whatever is going on in your life, can I just encourage you, now is the time to jump in.
Like when God is moving, you don’t want to miss it, you want to put your stuff on the back burner to get in the game, when God is moving. And God is moving. So get in the circle, go to serve the city, take a next step, move forward. You need some spiritual momentum in your life right now, and God is generating it. Hope is on the move, and you want to move when hope begins to flow.
And that’s what’s happening in this season. And so I’m incredibly grateful for that, and we’re in this series called, Becoming, Life as a Disciple, and we’re taking a couple of weeks to just talk about what does it actually mean to be a disciple? What does it mean to really follow Jesus? And we’re asking ourselves this really simple question, just like, who am I becoming? Which is a really significant question because who you are is more important than what you do, who you’re becoming, is more important than what you’re doing. And this is probably the most important year in your spiritual life.
So it’s a great question to ask. And so the question again, that I just posed to you is like, who are you becoming? Are you growing, are you changing, are you maturing, are you becoming freer, and healthier, are you growing in faith, hope and love, righteousness, peace, and joy? Are you quicker to repent, quicker to apologize, quicker to forgive, like are you becoming more like Jesus?
In fact, when Jesus invites us to follow him, he says, come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. When Jesus invites us to follow him, what he’s inviting us is to become a disciple, a learner, a follower, a student, one who becomes, like the one that they’re following, and as we begin to follow him, position ourselves as a disciple, he begins to make us, to shape us, form us, mold us, change us into his image and his likeness.
You see, discipleship is not about sin management or behavior modification, it is not about changing all the external realities of your life. Being a disciple is about learning to live free as a beloved son or daughter, it’s about learning to live in the superior realities of the kingdom in the midst of the inferior realities of this world, being a disciple is living a life of change, and transformation, submitting and surrendering ourselves to the lordship of Jesus.
In fact, I would say it to you like this, a disciple is simple someone who is becoming who they already are. in Jesus. Remember, the moment you put your faith in Jesus, you become a new creation, the bible says, you’re now the righteousness of God, he’s made you holy, set you apart, and now, we are learning to live according to that new identity of reality, because if we’re honest, we don’t always live righteously, we don’t always live holy, we don’t always life free.
So a disciple is simply the delta in a sense between who you are in Jesus, and how you’re currently living your life. It is bringing those two things into alignment with each other, and so to say it in another way, a disciple is someone who is simple learning about God’s heart. A disciple is someone who is allowing God to shape or mold his heart within, and that’s disciple, isn’t it?
A student, a learning, you want to learn to carry the heart of the one you’re following, in fact, Proverbs 4:23 says, above all else, guard your, say it with me, heart, for it is the wellspring of life. In other words, whatever is in your heart, it’s like a river, and it flows out into every other area of your life. So whatever is in your heart is going to flow into your relationships, and your finances, and your work, and how you do the rest of your life. And so one of the greatest ways you can guard your heart, is by allowing Jesus to form his heart within you.
Because when we learn to simple carry Jesus’ heart, that, like a river, begins to flow into our relationships, and our finances and our work, and our behavior, and our life, and all of a sudden, we start to talk like, think like, act like, believe like, live like Jesus.
Why? Because when we learn to carry his heart, we start to live like Jesus did. In the sense, discipleship is about allowing Jesus to just become your life hero. Think about it like that, just that about that like, Jesus, you’re just my hero, you’re my idol, you’re the one that I want to be like. See, we let Jesus be our hero for salvation, but why don’t you want Jesus to be your hero in all of life? Why don’t you want to be like him in every area of our life, in fact, Jesus says, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing.
How will we do the thing that Jesus has been doing? When we start allowing him to shape and form his heart within us. So in a sense, what I would say to you is a disciple is someone who lives a Jesus focused life. Okay? That’s a disciple, someone who lives a Jesus focused live, because you can’t become like someone you aren’t focused on.
And if you think of the word, focus, for a moment, with me, focus simply means to intentionally take your attention off of distractions, and place it on that, which matters most. It’s what focus means, right? To intentionally take your attention off of the distractions, and place it on that, which matters most. Like if you’ve ever been at home, and whoever you’re living with in your family, and they say, hey, hey, hey, hey, focus for a second. What are they saying? They’re saying, put the phone down, look at me and think about what I’m saying, right?
Okay, come on, students, have you ever been in class and your teacher is saying, focus, focus, focus. What are they saying? They’re saying get off the tech, and get back into the lesson that I’m trying to teach you. Have you ever in a business meeting, and your boss, or the manager, the leader of the meeting is like, come on, guys, let’s focus. What are they saying? They’re saying, hey, stop daydreaming about all the other stuff that you got to do, and start looking, and thinking about what we’re actually talking about. Are you with me on that?
Come on, it’s why sometimes I sit here, clap, clap, clap, clap, and do that. All that means is, stop drifting in all the places that you’ve gone and come back, focus. That’s a disciple. A disciple is someone who is intentionally taking their attention off of the distractions of life, and putting it back on what matters most, Jesus.
And if you’ve been a part of our church, you hear us say all the time, we’re a Jesus focused, spirit filled life giving church, in fact, this is what our logo means. I know some of you just think, man, they got a killer logo over at that Valley Creek church. I wonder what it means. Here’s what it means, Jesus focused, spirit filled, life giving. We believe Jesus is the narrow gate that lead to an ever widening life. In fact, this is why Jesus says, wide is the road and broad is the gate that leads to destruction and many are on it.
But narrow is the road and smallest the gate that leads to life and only a few find it. What we are saying is, there are a whole lot of disciples of this world, and only a few people who really want to be a disciple of Jesus, but we do. And so we want to be life giving, we’re on a mission to receive and release the life of God, wherever we go, we want to be spirit filled, we want to walk in the character and in the power of Jesus, and we want to be Jesus focused which I think is probably the most important and significant thing of our church, which literally means, we want to focus more on what Jesus has done for us, than on what we have to do for him. And this is the difference between religion and grace. Religion is about what you got to do for God, grace is all about what Jesus has done for you.
Listen to me, it’s not about what you got to do for God, it’s about what Jesus has done for you. And when you start to focus on what Jesus has done for you, you naturally start to change and transform and become more like him. Like this is why 1 John 4:19 says, we love because he first loved us.
In other words, when I focus on God’s love for me, it starts to create in my heart, love, back for him. The problem is, a lot of us think it’s about our love for God, so I got to try harder, do better, behave more, come on, love God, love God, love God, love God, how well does that work for you? How about God loves me, God loves me, God loves me? It’s amazing that when you start focusing on God’s commitment to you, you start become more committed to him. When you start focusing on God’s love for you, it gives you, all of a sudden, love for him.
When you focus on how God has served you, it makes you want to serve him, it’s not about what you do for God. Hear me, some of you, this is all brand new for you. Religion is all about what you have to do for God, Jesus has come to do everything for you. In fact, I love this verse in Exodus when they come out of Egypt, the slavery, a picture of salvation, what it says, I do this, because of what the Lord did for me, when I came out of Egypt. In other words, when we are focused on what the Lord has done for us, salvation, grace, kindness, it starts to change how we live.
This is so important, and you have to hear it 10,000 times, because the world has told you otherwise. I mean, do you remember at the end of Jesus’ life, then he tells the disciples he’s going to the cross and Peter steps forward, and Jesus tells them they’re all going to deny him, and Peter steps forward, and says, “Not me, Lord,” he says, I’ll even die with you, I’m never going to deny you, Jesus. And Jesus looks at Peter and he says, oh, bro, he said, you just made the classic mistake.
You just made it about what you are going to do for me, and not what I’m going to do for you. And so this very night, you’re actually going to deny me. You see, Peter did the classic thing that we do, that we think discipleship is all about, what we need to do for God. See, Peter shouldn’t have stepped forward and said, “Jesus, I will never disown you.” Peter stepped forward and said, Jesus, I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight, but I know you will never disown me. And I think if you would have done that, I don’t think he would have fallen. That’s discipleship.
It’s not behavior, it’s not sin management, it’s not doing better, it’s not all the stuff out of here, it’s about looking to Jesus and who he is, and what he has done, and it starts to just form and shape what’s going on in here. So here’s my question for you. Are you living a Jesus focused life? Are you living a Jesus focused life? And before you’re quick to answer that question, here’s how you know, just listen to the words that you say, because your mouth betrays your heart. Like, do you spend most of you time talking about what you have done? That’s a self-focused life, full of pride. Do you spend most of your time talking about what you have to do? What’s a religion focused life, that’s all about striving and earning and performing. Do you spend most of your time talking about what the world has done to you? That’s a victim focused life.
Do you spend most of your time talking about what other people are doing, that’s a judgmental or an insecure focused life, or do you talk about what Jesus has done for you? It’s your words. If all you ever do is talk about all the things that you’ve done, just so you understand, that’s like self-righteousness, that you believe in, that you have done all of these great things. If all you ever talk about is all the things you have to do, that’s religion, let’s try harder to do better, behave more – all you talk about is what the world has done to you, how hard it is, how bad it is, the circumstances, the situation, that’s a victim focused life, and if all you ever talk about is what other people are doing, where are they going, what they’re doing, what they posted on social media, how did they get this, why did they get this, can you believe they did that? That’s a judgmental or an insecure focused life.
But that’s not the life of a disciple, the life of a disciple is so focused on who Jesus is, and what he has done, it changes how we begin to live.
Come on, and if Jesus is hope, and love, and grace and truth and freedom, then the more I focus on him, I’m actually focusing on hope, and grace and truth, and love, and freedom in Jesus’ name. Come on, check out these versus with me, look at this. But we all with unveiled faces, beholding as in a mirror, the glory of the lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory, to glory.
You what that means? That means you will become like whatever you behold. You will be formed into whatever you’re focused on. And so if we behold or focus on Jesus, we get transformed into this image and likeness, from glory to glory and strength to strength and victory to victory. That’s God’s heart for us. You are made to live in glory. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, which means you were created to live in glory. Well, what is glory? It’s the character and the power of Jesus, because shaped and formed into his image and his likeness.
And to give attention to something is really two things, it’s your eyes, and your mind, this is focus, this is attention, this is beholding, it’s your eyes. This is why Jesus says, your eyes are the gateway to your soul. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be good, but if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be filled with darkness.
So whatever I’m looking at with my eyes, is filling my life up, this is why it matters what you watch, what you stare at, what you’re looking at, because it literally is starting to form and shape you and then your mind. This is why Jesus’ main message is, repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven it at hand, change your mind, change your thinking, whatever is lovely, and noble and true, and praiseworthy, and admirable, think on these things. Whatever we’re looking at, and thinking about, that’s what we’re focused on, and that’s what we’re becoming. Are you with me on that?
Let me give you another one, look at this, so we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but what is unseen, for what is seen is temporary, and what is unseen is eternal. In other words, we don’t want to fix our eyes on what is seen and temporary, the situation, circumstances, trials of life, we want to fix our eyes on what is unseen and eternal, Jesus, the everlasting one.
One more, 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, let us fix our eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of our faith. Let us fix our eyes, let us focus on Jesus, the faithful one, and as we focus on the faithful one, he is the one that begins to grow faith within us, and we never try to focus on your faith as a way to grow your faith, you will only fall, fall short and get disappointed and have self-condemnation, in your life.
Focus on Jesus the faithful one, and he is the author of your faith, he begins to grow it, and develop it before you even realize it, and it says, let us run with perseverance, like, come on, you’re on a race. And when you’re running a race, where do you look? Ahead. If you look down, what’s going to happen? You’re going to trip and fall. So when it says let us throw off the sin and the sin, the things that so easily entangles, we don’t look at the sin or the things that we’re entangled by, we look at Jesus, and as we begin to run towards Jesus, those things naturally and effortlessly begin to get removed from our life, because we’re so fixated on him, and who he is, and what he has done, that it begins to change what has even entangled us along the way. Come on.
Come on, remember when Peter walks on water? That’s what this is talking about. Jesus and the disciple or the disciples are in a boat and there’s a big storm and Jesus comes walking on water, and Peter says, Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come. Jesus says, Come on, Pete. He gets out of the boat, and he’s looking to Jesus and he starts walking on the water. And we get so, like, wow, that’s amazing. What Jesus says, the things I’ve been doing, you will do these things. So shouldn’t it be normative for us to do the things that Jesus did? If we’re focused on Jesus, it is. As long as he was focused on Jesus, he was walking on the wind, and the waves, and the water.
It says that, when he saw the wind and waves, he began to sink. When his attention went off of what mattered most, to the distractions of life, he began to sink.
And as he went down and cried out for help, Jesus came over and helped him up, and he said, you have little faith. I think that’s our journey in so many ways, we get so focused on the wind and the waves, and we begin to sink. When all the while, God has empowered us for a life of victory over the struggle and the sin, the brokenness and the pain and the patterns, and the habits, but we will never find victory over those things by looking at them. We have to look at him. And as we look at him, we start to walk in victory and have authority over that stuff. And when we begin to sink, he says, you have little faith. What’s faith?
Faith is being sure of what I hope for, certain of what I do not see. So faith, is taking my attention off of the distractions of life, and intentionally placing it on that which matters most, Jesus. Faith is choosing to look at the superior realities of the Kingdom in the midst of the inferior realities of this world.
Are you with me on that?
So then the question is this, based on that definition, would you say you’ve been living as a disciple over this last season? Based on everything I said, last 15 minutes or so, if that’s the definition of being a disciple, Jesus focused, would you say, have you been living as a disciple in this past season? Because see, if we’re honest, I think this has been a season where there’s been so many winds and so many waves, and so much of them that we’ve been distracted by so many things, that if we’re honest, we’ve probably been sinking more than we’ve been walking.
Are you with me on that?
So let me kind of show you something that – this really helped me a while ago, that might help you in terms of thinking, how do we actually focus on Jesus, and not get lost in the periphery, okay? Clap, clap, clap.
So focus with me. Think about theology for a second, think about your belief in God, what we actually believe about God, and how do we not get distracted, but stay focused, on that which matters most? And if you think about your theology, you can break things up into this category, there are absolutes, there are interpretations, there are deductions, and then there are opinions, preferences, passions and experiences okay? You just think about theology, what you believe about God, what we get focused on. This is really how you could break it up, and this has really helped me over the years. The most important thing in your life is the absolutes, these are the things that are absolutely true, these are the things that you would die for, these are the things that you’re so fixated and focused on, that there is no question whether or not they’re true. These are things like the Bible, is in the inherent word of God, these are things like the trinity, this is like the death burial in resurrection of Jesus, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that we have been saved by grace through faith, that the Holy Spirit has been poured out.
These are the absolutes of life, the absolutes of scripture, they are true no matter what is happening in the world around us. And then, there’s interpretations. And interpretation is, you read a passage in the bible and you interpret it, you try to understand what God meant, what the author was meaning. And if you ever wondered where we get different denominations from, it’s right about here, it’s – two people can read the same passage and interpret it differently. One person might read a passage about baptism, and think it means full emersion and another person might read that same passage and say, “No, I actually think it means we can be sprinkled.” It doesn’t matter the theology the point is, this is where we start to interpret things that we may not see exactly the same. And then you get further out and you got deductions. A deduction is, A plus B, equals C.
A deduction is two interpretations that you add together and create a deduction or a conclusion. That this would be like you read a passage in Daniel, and read a passage in Revelation. You make two interpretations, you add them together to make a deduction or conclusion about the end times or the return of Jesus in some way, shape or form. You with me on that? Yeah, that’s where it gets dangerous. Because here’s the absolute, Jesus is coming back.
Cool. You can make all the deductions you want. Jesus is coming back. Cool. Then you get beyond that in your opinions. This is your opinion, your perspective, how you view the world. Then you’ve got preferences, this is what you prefer, what you desire, this is a lot of times wrong methods, the way that you like it. Like, only like singing one song or I like singing five songs, that would be preferences. Then you got passions, this is like burdens, concern areas that are heavy on your heart.
And then you got experiences. What you’ve experienced or the tradition that you grew up in in life. Are you with me on that?
Okay. Here’s the problem. The problem is when we take all of this stuff, try to put it here. This is the problem when we try to get so focused on all of this stuff out here and we try to make it an absolute. When Jesus is supposed to be our absolute.
Okay. Now take a big breath. Let it out. Focus in. Okay. Ready? This is the problem in the last season, so many of us have taken all of these things like politics, and try to make them absolutes. Our politics absolute? No. There are kingdom principles that we want to learn and study and live our life by. But politics are not an absolute.
Education. Is education an absolute? No. There are kingdom principles that we want to learn about God’s design for raising up the next generation, but a worldly educational system, they are not absolutes that we want to yank into this space. Healthcare, are there absolutes for healthcare? Masks, vaccines, quarantines, all that stuff. Are they absolute? No. The problem is, is we want to take all those things and we want to bring them in here and we want to be so focused on those things. And honestly almost completely forget Jesus. This is the problem. We’re not disciples of politics, of education, or healthcare. We’re disciples of Jesus, so we’re supposed to be focused on him.
Now here’s what happens, when we take these things and we want to bring them into the absolutes we then show up on a Sunday or a party online campus and we expect that to be the main message that’s delivered on Sunday.
Okay. But let me try to help you understand it. My job is not to preach about your opinions, preferences, passions and experiences. My job… Exodus 18 and Acts chapter 6. If you don’t believe me, you can look it up, is to teach the word to pray for you and develop leaders. Now, you might have come from a different experience, a tradition that you grew up in and that’s not what was modeled to you, that’s okay. Doesn’t mean anything. It just means that I’m not going to do what you grew up. You see, I’m going to do what God has asked us to do which is what? Preach about Jesus and His kingdom. Because as we talk about Jesus and His kingdom, guess what happens? You start becoming empowered to be a kingdom solution oriented person in those places.
Now what happens is, we have these passions like we’re super into politics, we’re super into healthcare, we’re super into education. All of that is great. That’s what we try to train you, to teach you to be a hope carrier. The problem is, is you want us to preach on that every single week, but look around or if you’re online, think how many people are tuning in. If we preached on everybody’s passions every single week, we would never talk about Jesus. But you’re like, “But my passion.” Exactly. And so, if you’re into politics, that’s great. Be a hope carrier in Jesus’ name. Get involved. Run for office. Go help other people that are kingdom people, attain elective roles. If you’re interested in education, don’t just complain about it. Get involved, run for the school board, adopt students into your life and mentor them, encourage teachers. If you’re super into healthcare, great. Get involved in the lives of sick people and pray for them and help them find healing.
Listen, this is what we do as a church. We didn’t preach about politics. What did we do? We talked about the kingdom. They were supposed to honor those that are in authority over our life and we went around and serve all of the local governments in our area. What did we do about education? We didn’t sit here and rail on the education system and all the stuff. We just got involved. We’re raising up the next generation and we try to bless and minister to every school district in our entire region. What we do with healthcare? We didn’t make it about vaccines, and masks, and quarantines and all this stuff. What did we do? We preach the absolute which is love your neighbor as yourself. Remember that if you’ve been here? Some of you over here, you think it’s a big deal. Some of you over here, you think it’s not a big deal? What was the thing that we preached? You got to figure out how to love you and you got to figure out how to love you. That’s the absolute. Are you with me on this?
Come on, this so matters. This so matters. This is how Jesus did it. Do you realize that they came to try to treat Jesus? And they said, “Hey, Jesus,” what’s your exact word? Opinion. “Should we pay taxes to Caesar?” You just tease Jesus up to say everything he’s ever wanted to say about the government. And He just looks at them and He says, whose face is on the coin? They said, “Caesar.” And He says, “Give to Caesar what’s Caesar, and give to God what’s God’s.” In other words, yeah, honor the government but give your focus and your attention to God and His kingdom.
Come on. Education, Jesus didn’t just walk around and bash the education system. He got people in his life and he started to train them, and raise them, and teach them kingdom thinking. Healthcare, Jesus didn’t just complain about the lack of healthcare in the Roman world. You know what he did? He walked into the lives of sick people and helped them find healing.
In Jesus’ name. Are you with me on this? You see the problem is, a lot of us want to take these things and pull him in here and we want to try to get a kingdom reality in a worldly way. And we think the end justifies the means. Hear me, in the Kingdom of God, the end never justifies the means. The means matter just as much as the end. How you do, what you do is just as important as why you do it. And a lot of us gets so frustrated with the lost, lonely and broken people and their views on life. What do you expect from them? They’re lost, lonely and broken. Stop expecting faith, hope and love out of a lost and dying world. That’s our job to be hope carriers in Jesus’ name to rise up and live from the inside out not the outside in. Are you with me on this? Come on.
We’re not the only ones. When Jesus told the disciples He was about to go to the cross, Peter tried to stop him. Look, and Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God but the things of man. Catch this. He says worldly thinking is agreement with the demonic. The things of men. You have in mind the things of men, which means human thinking is agreement with the Kingdom of Darkness. He’s saying, “Pete, you’re focused on the wrong thing.” And what was Peter trying to do? Peter had an opinion, a preference, a passion that he wanted to make absolute and it was, Jesus can’t go to the cross. But what Jesus was saying to Peter is, “Peter, I must go to the cross.”
“And you need to think from the Kingdom perspective not worldly lens.” You see, if we learn to focus on Jesus and His Kingdom, we start living an inside out reality. We start carrying His heart. Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life. And when we turn our attention to Jesus and who He is and what He has done, we start having Kingdom interpretations, Kingdom deductions, Kingdom opinions, Kingdom preferences, Kingdom passions and Kingdom experiences in Jesus’ name instead of trying to take all these worldly things and pull them into the absolute center of our life. Come on, think of how much damage was done over the last year by making not absolutes, absolute.
“Get behind me, Satan.” You are thinking like the world which is agreement with darkness. Think like the Kingdom. There are so many relationships and lives and destinies that got destroyed because we made the wrong things the absolutes and broke over them. Are you with me on this? That’s why we want to talk about Jesus. In fact, if you say, “Well, where do you get that from?” This is the last verse in the book of Acts. This is Paul and here’s what it says, “Boldly and without hindrance, Paul preached the Kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” That’s us. That’s a disciple. We want to talk about The Kingdom and we want to talk about Jesus. And I want to talk about the Kingdom and Jesus in such a way that you rise up to be a hope carrier and whatever passion and space that God has placed you in, and actually get involved. And not just want to talk about it but actually get involved in serving and bringing the Kingdom of God into that space.
How do we do that? Not by railing on the passion points every single week and all these things. No, no, no. We get there by talking about the kingdom and Jesus. Come on. Like our church is incredibly a generous church. If you’re here, we don’t talk about giving a lot. Our church is an incredibly servant-hearted church. We don’t talk a lot about serving. Our church is incredibly kind. I don’t tell you to be kind every week, do we? What do we talk about? The Kingdom and Jesus and that starts the changes from the inside out. Come on look at this, Romans 12, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Make no mistake about it, the world wants to conform you, mold you, press you, shape you into its thinking process. The world wants you to be its disciple.” Stay with me. The world wants you to be its disciple, to be a student, a learner, focused on it.
And if we’re honest, some of us are more disciples of Fox news, disciples of CNN, disciples of Facebook, disciples of Hollywood, disciple of the world’s definition of sexuality and gender, disciples of the cancel culture. We’re not supposed to be learners of that. We’re supposed to be students, learners, followers, learning the heart of Jesus.
Listen to me, you are a disciple of whatever you’re the most focused on. So what then are you a disciple of?
It’s really hard to say you’re a disciple of Jesus if all you ever do is consume the news. Because you’re a learner, a student, you’re becoming like that, what you’re looking at and thinking about. Don’t be conformed, shaped, molded into this world. In fact, if anything I’ve even said today is like you’re like finding yourself getting offended in it, that’s worldly thinking, man. Because all we’re talking about is Jesus. How can you even get upset when we talk about Jesus? Because Jesus’ truth offends us and sometimes He has to offend us so he can free us. Because we don’t even realize how conformed into the pattern of this world we are.
Let me pull this all together. One day, Jesus went into the synagogue and there was a woman who is crippled and bent over. She had been shaped, broken, molded by the brokenness of this world. A woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for 18 years. She has been so press down, shaped into this broken mold. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, “Woman, you are set free from your infirmity.” Then He put His hands on her and immediately she straightened up and praised God.” Killer story of healing, better story about discipleship. The woman is so formed into the mold of darkness and yet when Jesus shows up and puts His hands on her, like the potter and clay, He takes the broken bends of her life and He straightens her up in Jesus’ name.
We get so bent into the world thinking, living, talking, acting realities, but there’s no broken bending beyond what Jesus can restore.
As a disciple, listen, you start where you are, but you can’t stay where you are. He moves us forward and start straightening us up, straightening us into the image and likeness of God not the mold of this world. Last verse, “For I made the decision to know nothing.” That is to forgo philosophical or theological discussions regarding inconsequential things and opinions while among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
Bam. You know what that says? It’s Paul. Probably the greatest disciple that ever lived. He says, “I just decided I was going to live a Jesus-focused life.” He said, “I’ve got opinions. I got preferences. I’ve got experiences and passions, but I’m not going to let those things override that which matters most, and His name is Jesus.”
So what if you started to live a Jesus-focused life? What are the next time you felt lonely, instead of focusing on the loneliness, you focused on the fact that He is with you and will never leave you, nor forsake you? What if the next time you’re tempted to sin, instead of focusing on that temptation, looking at the wind and the waves and trying to convince yourself that you’re not going to do it, what if you just take your eyes off that and look to Jesus and realized that His divine power has given you everything you need for life and Godliness? But what about the next time you actually do cave in to that temptation and you do begin to sin instead of focusing on that and yourself, and how bad you are and all the self-condemnation? What if in that moment, you just looked up a Jesus and said, “Even though I just fell in this moment, I still am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.” What if the next time your opinions, preference, perspective, your passion button started to rise up so much that it was about to break relationship with you and other people, you just stopped and look to Jesus and said, “Jesus, I want to look to you.”
“I want to look at this issue that’s a really big deal to me through you. I don’t want to look at it and miss you.” Come on, are you with me on this? Who you becoming? Who you becoming? Are you becoming someone that’s focused on what they have done? Are you becoming someone that’s focused on what they have to do? Are you becoming someone who’s focused on what the world has done to them? Are you becoming someone is focused on what other people have done? Or you becoming someone whose life is getting filled with who Jesus is and what he has done? That is freedom and life and discipleship in Jesus’ name. Just close your eyes.
So, Jesus, we want you to be the absolute center of our life. Lord, would you help us take our focus, our attention off of the distractions and place it back on you? Lord would you help the things that have maybe moved into the center that aren’t supposed to be there? But by Your Grace and by Your Spirit, would you begin to move them out back to where they belong so that our eyes, and our mind, and our heart would be more fixated on you?
I would encourage you this week to spend some time with the Lord. And maybe draw that little graph out in a journal and just ask the Lord, what are your absolutes? Where are things that maybe you can’t find fully and clearly in the scripture? And those things maybe have moved into the center. Ask the Lord and let Him move them out. Jesus, I pray that we as individuals and as a family on mission would live a Jesus-focused life. Because as we look to you, as we follow you, you change us and make us.
Thank you, Jesus that we can spend our lives focusing on what you have done for us, not on what we have to do for you. In your name we pray, amen.