SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON/Where Is Our Focus?
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 1:00 AM
"But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested . . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ . . . whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith . . . so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:21-26)
Why has the Christian faith for many become such a dull and boring part of their existence? If Jesus came that we should know life, and that more abundantly, why then does it seem that so few enjoy it? Could it be that our focus isn't where it ought to be? If the victorious Christian life seems so elusive, might it not be an indication that something indeed is missing in our own basic understanding of what that Christian life is suppose to be - to look like? Joseph Stowell wrote: "If Christianity is dull and boring, if it is a burden and not a blessing, then most likely we are involved in a project, not a Person - a system and not a Savior, rules rather than a relationship." I think there's something to his warning here.
And then there is the number of professing Christians who seem to live such defeated lives in spite of their faith. They appear to know so little of the joy of which the Scriptures speak or the peace that Christ promised. In fact it is quite evident that there is a great disconnect between faith and practice, faith and experience, faith and contentment in much of their lives. Underneath the surface, for many, lies a smoldering disappointment and bitterness over the way things have turned out - a resentment that the Christian faith just hasn't worked for them. Why is that? Could the problem be one of focus?
While reading a book by Christian writer, Jerry Bridges, I stumbled across this quote of Robert Haldane (1764-1842): "To that righteousness is the eye of the believer ever to be directed; on that righteousness must he rest; on that righteousness must he live; on that righteousness must he die; in that righteousness must he appear before the judgment-seat; in that righteousness must he stand for ever in the presence of a righteous God."
I don't know about you but I find that quote to be quite convicting indeed as it challenges my own heart. You see, Haldane is telling us that Christ is to be our all in all. Our focus is to be on Him. Our rest and joy and contentment and satisfaction and peace are all to be found in Him. Our hope, in this life or in that one to come, if not anchored in Christ, is no real hope at all. The victorious nature of the Christian walk is discovered in our dependence upon Christ Jesus and our inseparable union with Him. The Apostle Paul tells us rightly that it is "Christ in you, the Hope of glory". The only thing that makes this life meaningful and gives me hope of an eternity of heavenly joy is the Son of God who died for me and in whom my life even now is hidden.
So, the question would seem to be; 'Am I looking to Christ?' - 'Is my focus on Him?' I think of that beautiful hymn by Zinzendorf, "Jesus, thy blood and righteousness, my beauty are, my glorious dress". Can you truly say that? Is it the righteousness of Christ to which you look and in which you hope, or is it your own? What is the beauty by which your own life is adorned? -- The beauty of YOUR accomplishments and sacrifices or that of Jesus? That distinction is brought out even most vividly in another hymn by Horatius Bonar: "Not what my hands have done can save my guilty soul; not what my toiling flesh has borne can make my spirit whole. Not what I feel or do can give me peace with God; not all my prayers and sighs and tears can bear my awful load."
Do you see what Bonar is saying? The focus (and therefore the hope) of the believer rests on Jesus and in what He has done rather than in our own actions. The key to the Christian life, then, is to be seen in our resting in the finished atoning work of Jesus who died for our sins. In eternity past God planned the details of this display of His love and grace, having His own Son become the blood-stained sacrifice by which the sins of people like you and me might be pardoned, and we - a sin-stained people - might become clothed with the very righteousness of God in Christ (2 Cor 5:21).
That's why it is so absolutely necessary that we live our lives resting on Him, content with a borrowed righteousness. The victorious Christian life is only known as we fix our eyes on the righteousness of Christ, stand in it, live in it, die in it. Even in Glory our own hope throughout eternity future will be found in the righteousness of Jesus Christ with which we remain eternally cloaked. A Holy God is only to be met by a sinful people at the Mercy Seat. Only there - claiming the holiness and purity of Christ - are we safe in His presence. But that was His intention all along.
So let me ask you - where is your focus? Whose work speaks for you? Upon whose power and strength do you daily rely? Whose love do you esteem and praise - your own for God, or His love for you? What is your only hope of being safely ushered through this world into God's glorious presence in glory? The Christian life is not dull, nor is it boring. It is the most wonderful and challenging experience any of us can ever have - if we keep our eyes on Christ and rest in Him.