Thursday, December 13, 2012

Focusing On God

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”1

     I recently got glasses because of a stigmatism that grew over the last year. When I tried them on and wore them the first day, I was amazed at how much detail I could see now, that I couldn’t see before my sight was thus virtually corrected. Because my eyes weren’t focused and couldn’t focus on the things around them, I was missing out on the amazing complexity of everyday items: roads, grass, etc. The Christian life is much the same: “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”2 Although the analogy of vision no longer applies – we can’t always literally see God – we can strengthen our faith, as glasses correct vision, so we are “in tune” with God. Part of the reason vision is so important in our world is because of the danger and risk of various tasks, if executed with poor sight. A driver could get in a major accident if he fails to see the oncoming tragic. A surgeon may either make a wrong move or take too much time in a life-or-death operation. Just so, our attentiveness to God is vital, as it matters for eternity. 
     Jesus said, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”3 In fact, this analogy demonstrates just how much God knew about his creation. Just like the branch in the parable, God’s children are like trees. Life isn’t always easy. Christians go through hard times in their life, just like trees that seem to struggle to stay alive in winter. The secret lies in the roots: while the branches find it hard to produce fruit, the roots are grasping for more and more nutrition. In the spring, the tree rejoices with its new, strong roots. That which gave it so much agony, drove the tree to grow stronger. When we are at our lowest in our efforts to serve God and produce fruit, then we are searching for God and our strength is being renewed.
     Focusing on God and Christian Worldview have something in common. In the latter the Bible serves as our spectacles for viewing the world, so also is it the “eyeglasses” that helps us “see” God, his teaching, and his will. In order for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day, we must immerse ourselves in God’s Word. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”4 Besides, the Bible is “God-breathed and…useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”5 When we read God’s Word, we are reading the very words of our Creator.
     Not only must we pay attention to what he says in his Word, but we must come to him in prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”6 Jesus himself modeled for us how we should pray in the Lord’s Prayer. Even though the terminology used is sometimes hard for us to truly grasp –like fancy words that we memorized as kids only to find that we didn’t know what they mean –what is said is a perfect example of what we should pray. It focuses more on the spiritual matters of this life than the material things, which is what the Lord said to do on the mountainside: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”7 It’s not what we pray for that is most important, but who we pray to.
     Although God hears every prayer, he wishes us to be humble, and fear him for the all-powerful God he is. James, who knew Jesus so well (he was his biological brother), puts it this way: “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.”8 Paul says much the same thing in his letter to the Philippians: “Therefore, my dear friends...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”9 Numerous times the Bible says how much God values a humble, or broken, heart and opposes those that are proud and eager to exalt themselves.
     When we fear God, we are blessed with the benefits that he gives. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”10 He promises to counsel us, protect us, and be our father and peace. God created life, so we should acknowledge that he knows the way it works. He is the Way, he is the Life, and he is the Truth that will set us free. Seek him and you will find him. Just like glasses will facilitate better sight, so we will be given a surer path and “a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”11 If you truly focus on things of God, and listen to him in his Word, he will equip you to work for his glory. You might call this “putting on the armor of God” – and that’s exactly what it is. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”12

     Justin Gummi

1 James 4:8; NIV1984
2 Hebrews 11:1; Ibid
3 John 15:6; Ibid
4 Psalm 119:105; Ibid
5 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Ibid
6 Philippians 4:6, emphasis mine; Ibid
7 Matthew 6:33; Ibid
8 James 2:19; Ibid
9 Philippians 2:12; Ibid
10 Psalm 111:10; Ibid
11 Proverbs 18:24; Ibid
12 Deuteronomy 6:5; Ibid


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