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. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.Hebrews 12:1-3
There is something about returning our focus on Jesus that shifts our perspective. When we look at the problems we face, they seem to grow bigger. The longer we look at them the more insurmountable they can seem. Then, as our problems and conflicts seem to grow, our tendency to feel sorry for ourselves kicks in. The demonic spirit of self-pity comes to whisper believable lies into our ears.
Maybe you have experienced this downward cycle.
Yet, when we return our gaze to Jesus, everything begins to look different. When we look to Jesus we are reminded of His goodness and compassion. We are reminded of His love and power. We get away from self-pity and self-focus and remember that this life is about Him and not us. We consider Him instead of considering all of the obstacles and problems. We remember all that He endured and we stop feeling like a victim of our circumstances.
When my brother was in the hospital because of the tragic car accident that eventually took his life, I kept hearing the Lord tell me, “Eyes on Jesus, eyes on Jesus!” I imagine this is the same kind of thing a parent would say to their young child who was about to go into surgery. While the little boy would want to look at what the doctors were doing, the parent would be telling their son, “Look at me! Keep your eyes on me!”
When we keep our eyes on Jesus, our problems shrink down, our anxiety dissipates, our fears subside. Jesus is captivating, and even more so the longer we fix our eyes on Him. In Him is so much love and grace and kindness. We suddenly are able to love people and show grace in a way we previously couldn’t.
When we look at people, their imperfections and flaws start to grow big. We get irritated with every little thing they do. We want to address every little flaw and offense. But with our eyes on Jesus, we are able to overlook little flaws and offenses and focus on the issues the matter.
A person’s wisdom yields patience;Proverbs 19:11
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.
The writer of Hebrews tells us that if we “consider Him” instead of just considering ourselves and our situation then we will actually be able to run our race with perseverance. We’ll be able to “not grow weary and lose heart.” When we keep our motivation and purpose fixed on Jesus, it gives us a kind of enduring strength that won’t quit. Paul said it this way:
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9
We sometimes think we need to focus on the problem to reap a harvest. But the counterintuitive truth of the Kingdom is that focusing our energy and affection on Jesus is what allows us to reap a harvest in due time. This is especially true in the church. Christians often spend a ton of time focusing on the church, sometimes to the point of losing our focus on Jesus.
If our focus is the church, we will find more and more reasons to get frustrated with the church. We will find every little flaw in the people of the church. We will be easily offended and irritated. We’ll discover that we become hyper-critical of the church. This will lead us to either leave the church or go on a performance-driven improvement plan for the church. Our focus is off.
When we keep our eyes on Jesus, we can love the church as the Bride of Christ. Jesus loves the church as a husband loves his bride. All change motivated by Jesus comes from a place of love, not performance-driven frustrations. When we focus on Jesus, we remember that the church is more than an organization or a business. We are a family on mission in the world. We are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world. With eyes on Jesus, we remember that we are an imperfect community that serves at the pleasure of the King.
So, where is your focus? Who or what are you fixing your eyes on?