William Blake once wrote, “We become what we behold.”
Looking at Jesus truly has the power to change us.
He is the principal thing.
Everything in life must really begin here. If we can get this right and gaze at Christ, that alone gets us moving in the right direction.
When we gaze at Christ, we see His great love for us.
When we see His love, we begin to love Him back.
When we love Him, we learn to trust Him.
When we trust Him, we start to believe Him.
When we believe Him, our thoughts and actions start to change.
Then we start to look like Christ and produce the fruit of the Spirit.
It’s a transforming cycle that begins with getting our focus right.
There are two really tricky obstacles to this simple process of gazing at Christ.
1. The enemy of our soul is out to distract and discourage us.
Busyness seems so innocent. So good-hearted. So noble. Yet - it is one of satan’s greatest designs to keep us from focusing on Christ.
If he can keep our focus elsewhere - even on “good” things - we won’t have time to look to Christ and be truly changed.
He then discourages us with feelings of guilt, condemnation, and shame so we don’t feel worthy to gaze at Christ. He lies to us saying that there will be disappointment in Christ’s eyes if we dare to look at Him. That’s ridiculous! There is only overflowing love for you in those eyes. He is ready to pour out His goodness on you if you come.
2. Our flesh (carnal nature) is an even bigger obstacle in my opinion.
Our 5 senses scream out at us concerning every little thing and consume our focus. I’m HUNGRY! I’m so TIRED! I need ME TIME! ICE CREAM! TV! ENTERTAINMENT!
It takes discipline and self-control to turn that off. To get quiet. To say no to our flesh and direct our minds to the beauty of Christ. There is a place for all of those fun things, but for most of us (at least for me), our flesh tends to run the show.
Self is a beast. We really are like a two year old most of the time, and we need to train our minds, our wills, our emotions to rest on the person of Christ. I’m still learning how to do this. It’s challenging, but the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.
I also recommend reading The Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. It is excellent!
Once we see what obstacles are in our way to this great prize of seeing Christ, we can move forward with eyes wide open.
All this talk of gazing at Christ is great, but how to do we actually do that? I sometimes deeply wish He would just sit with me on the back porch, and I could chill with Him in the flesh (Lord, if you want to do that - c’mon!). Odds are that I will have to wait until heaven for that.
In the meantime, there are ways for us to truly focus on Christ here and now.
- Get ravenous for the Word and Talk/Read it. Mike Bickle (I know I know - I reference Him a lot here) gave some INCREDIBLE advice. He suggests scheduling your time in the Word. Like, legitimately put it on the calendar. He proposes that you will read the Word 10 times more than if you don’t schedule it (!). You may not always keep that commitment, but it is totally worth trying. When you have your time in the Word, speak it out loud. Then ask the Lord about it. Get quiet and listen. Let the Holy Spirit reveal things to your heart and mind. That kind of interaction with the written Word is powerful and leaves you hungry for more!
- Consider Christ and His Word more than our issues/situations. It helps our perspective to make Christ as big as possible - to keep Him in the center. What this means is that when challenges come, we make Christ bigger than anything else. When we keep Him as the center, everything else falls into proper place. When my circumstances are screaming for my attention and they are counter to the abundant life Christ has provided for me, I acknowledge them, but I don’t focus on them. I fill my heart and mind with His Word, with what Christ has done for me in the past, what I know about His character.
- Talk with Him. All prayer is good. The kind where God gets to share = the best. That’s what changes me the most. I’ve started asking God what He thinks about most situations. Don’t we do that with our best friends? We ask what they think! “Lord, how do you feel about ______? What do you have in your mind about _______?” 2 Cor 2:16 says “We have the mind of Christ [to be guided by His thoughts and purposes].” We have the mind of Christ! So I just ask Him and if I stop and listen, He will show me what’s He’s thinking and feeling.
- Talk about Him. When I hear what God is showing other people and doing in their lives, it stokes my faith. I love throwing out this question to people: “Has God been doing anything good in your life lately? Is He showing you anything?” Man - some amazing stories usually follow. Our mouths are powerful. When we hear the Word of God and speak it out of our own mouths, it is alive and powerful and changes us and the atmosphere. Look for opportunities to talk about Christ!
Where has your focus been lately? Have you been extra busy? Are your needs screaming loud and clear? Take some time to put your Jesus glasses on. Get in the Word. Make Him big. Ask Him what He thinks. Then. Go. Share. It.
Check out this song. It sets all things right: