As Christians, we are astonishingly privileged. We worship the one true God. This is a thought that should fill us with awe, amazement and thankfulness.
How incredible, that despite our sinfulness, the almighty, holy, creator God has made himself known to us and made a way that we can know him. God has revealed himself to us in his word - in one sense through the Holy Scriptures, but in another deeper, more wonderful way through the Word made flesh, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Whilst as Christians we worship God, and in our worship include all three persons of the Godhead, we have a very special relationship with the Lord Jesus. The clue is in the name 'Christian' - a Christian is a follower of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ should be (indeed must be) central to our faith, and, as our faith should impact every aspect of our lives, so Christ should be central to all we do.
Is he though?
Speaking for myself, one of my great struggles as a Christian is that so much so often comes between me and the Lord Jesus. Whether it's the distractions of daily life, work and family, the attractions of the world or my old sinful nature, many things dull the relationship I have with him. Does this sound familiar?
No doubt it is something all Christians experience, a problem we all grapple with. Maybe your feelings are similar to those expressed by William Gadsby in the hymn Immortal Honours?
Oh that my soul could love and praise him more / His beauties trace, his majesty adore / Live near his heart, upon his bosom lean / Obey his voice and all his will esteem.
Is there an answer? There is, but in my experience, there is also a trap here that we can all too easily fall into. We long to be closer to the Lord Jesus, we want him to be more precious to us, and to love him more. So what do we do? We try to fix all the things that are getting in the way. We determine to pray more and to read the Bible more. We vow to listen more attentively to sermons and to be more sincere in our worship. We make a special effort to be less worldly minded, trying to stop doing things that distract us from God or tempt us into sin. In all, we make a real effort to get closer to the Lord Jesus. Have you done this? Has it worked?
Please don't get me wrong, these are all good and right things to do, however I've proved that all too quickly they peter out and I slip back into my old ways. Why does this happen? This is where that trap is. We want to be closer to the Lord Jesus, but to try and make this happen, we look inwards. We think that if we can improve, then he will come closer to us. We end up trying to fix ourselves in our own strength and end up failing, frustrated, discouraged, and maybe even doubting our own salvation.
So, what should we do, what is the answer, how can we avoid this trap?
There is a hymn by Helen H. Lemmel with a beautiful chorus. It goes like this,
O soul, are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Saviour,
And life more abundant and free!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
This is the answer. Don't try to fix yourself, don't look inwards, look upwards - turn your eyes upon Jesus himself. Pray to him, ask him to bless you with his presence, ask him to reveal himself to you more and more. Confess your weaknesses to him. Tell him how you long to be closer to him, but find it such a struggle. Then, spend time meditating on him.
If you are in love with someone, thinking about them can become all consuming. How amazing if we could have these kind of thoughts about the Lord Jesus. After all he is described as the 'chiefest among ten thousand', the 'altogether lovely' (Song of Solomon 5:10, Song of Solomon 5:16). This is a subject that has no real boundaries - there are incredible depths, beauties and glories in Christ. So much so that it can seem almost overwhelming. We wonder how we can ever grasp just how wonderful he is or understand the spiritual depths there are here. However, this doesn't mean we should run away from them, but rather, should be filled with awe, wonder and worship, seeking the Holy Spirit's help to learn more and more. Here are some things to meditate on:
- Think of all the things Jesus has done for you. Think of him in Gethsemane, think of him on the cross, suffering for you. Think of his pierced hands, feet and side.
- Think of him in the tomb, then think on him rising triumphant over sin, death, hell and the grave. Think of him ascended into heaven, and even now sitting on the right hand of God the Father in his glory, but still praying for you, still caring about you.
- Remember that he loves you with an unchangeable, everlasting love that not even your sins or hard heart can diminish - a love that led him to die for you.
- Think of him in eternity past entering into a covenant with his Father to be your surety and substitute, to rescue you from eternal ruin.
- Meditate on the fact that he is none other than almighty God, yet was willing to leave the glory of heaven and come to a sinful earth. Why? To save his people from their sins.
- Think of him as your prophet, priest and king. Think of him as your brother, husband and friend. Think about what these offices and relationships really mean.
- Remember his perfect life, his compassion, his preaching and his miracles.
- Think of him as the good shepherd, the door, the true vine, the bread & water of life, the light, the way, the truth and the life.
- Think of him as your captain, leading you into battle against sin and Satan.
- Think of him as a man riding to his death on a donkey. Think of him as the King of kings and Lord of lords, riding victorious from heaven on a white horse.
- Remember that in him is your redemption, your justification, your sanctification and your glorification.
- And, look forward to that great day when you will see him face to face, that certain and glorious conclusion to the Christian's life, when you will be with him, in his presence, never to be separated from him. What a prospect!
This list could go on, but if by faith we are able even to glimpse the wonders of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, then our hearts will respond in love, we will feel more of his closeness, he will be made truly precious to us, he will become as Paul writes, our 'all and in all' (Colossians 3:11). May God grant us each this blessing.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus!
[A00045 - 20/11/2017]
Thank you. A lovely reminder. ‘O that my soul could love and praise him more!’