"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.” Hebrews 12:1-2
This is one of the facets of our faith that is so basic, so obvious, so critical, that you’d think it’d be an easy principle to master. Jesus is the author and finisher, or pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He is the all-sufficient source of everything we need to carry out a Godly life. Jesus is all we need to obey God and follow faithfully. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”
I’m convinced we’ve already mastered this “fix your eyes upon Jesus concept;” but only in knowledge, not in practice where it really matters. We know what God’s word says about trusting Jesus. We’ve sat through sermons, watched videos, studied passages, all pointing to the same concept with compelling passion and a sense of urgency. “If we don’t fix our eyes upon Jesus,” the preacher says, “we won’t move anywhere in our faith.” True wisdom is the Godly application of knowledge. Knowledge, no matter how Godly, without application, is meaningless. If that phrase is alien to your ears, consider this: there are atheists with greater knowledge of the Bible than most church-folk. But that knowledge does not produce Godliness.
So the question remains: if we know that we need to fix our eyes upon Jesus, that there’s scarcely anything more important than trusting him, and if we believe that we can’t do what God has asked without Jesus, then why don’t we keep our eyes fixed upon him? Perhaps I’m making an incorrect assumption that most of us don’t keep our eyes firmly fixed on Christ, so let me speak for myself. I don’t.
I try. But I fail. And since I believe that fixing our eyes on Jesus produces fruit for the Kingdom of God, the measurable stagnation in church growth indicates that few of us do keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. If not keeping our eyes fixed on him is the problem, or diagnosis, let me propose a root cause: we just don’t want to.
We say we want to, sure. We claim to believe in the importance of doing so. But whether or not we do is merely a matter of desire. Sometimes we want to keep our eyes there. Other times, we choose to our fix our eyes elsewhere. We get distracted by things which are entertaining, worrisome, weighty, or timely. In our fallen human nature, the belief that we are sufficient subverts our humble reliance upon Jesus. The reality? We aren’t sufficient. We may have what it takes to scrape through this life, perhaps attaining a measure of success by worldly standards, but ultimately we’re insufficient to carry out the will of God, or to follow Jesus as he desires and deserves to be followed. What’s the prognosis? Praise Jesus that in his infinite grace he makes known his desire for his disciples and provides what we need to fulfill that desire. If you desire to fulfill Jesus’ desire, then Jesus himself must be your chief desire. Your desire for Jesus must outweigh your pride, outlast your worry, outdo your love of the world, and outshine all other desires.
Because of our broken humanity, I’m convinced Jesus is the only way we can desire Jesus that way. If it seems a paradox, it is. Only by casting ourselves in earnest prayer and deep conviction on the mercy of Christ the chief grace-giver can we hope to desire Jesus the way we ought to desire him. But if Christ, in his mercy, responds to our heart’s call by increasing our desire for him, I believe we will begin to see the fruit only he can provide.
And trust him; he will respond. -Pastor Eric