In the evening, he mentioned that often we choose to focus on the wrong thing, or rather, just not the right thing? Whether believer or not, for various reasons, we sometimes have the natural inclination to gravitate toward the focus of something other than the right thing. Oh we may not mean to, we just find ourselves often doing it.
The Bible admonishes us to be "looking" unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2 NKJV) Said another way and in another version, we are to be "fixing our eyes" on Jesus... (NIV)
The Greek word for “looking” or “fixing our eyes” is aphorao. It originates by combining two separate Greek words meaning "away from" and "to see". The implication is that there is a turning away from that which we are currently looking at, to instead see something else. In this case, we are to turn our attention from that which may currently be occupying our attention and to, with intent, fix our eyes on Jesus instead. What exactly does this mean?
Perhaps an illustration is in order. Better yet, a modern day parable: "Two Boys on a Journey"
Two boys found themselves on a journey together. The younger boy was extremely homesick and was, in fact, headed home. But he was unaware of it. Nonetheless, he was consumed with the desire to go home. Aware of it, the older boy had just left home and was going to a place to learn survival skills. This trip for survival learning was to prepare him for life away from home, but it was to also include subjects other than outdoor skills. But he, too, was unaware of it. While on this journey, and not long after the journey had started, the older boy became extremely irritated with the younger boy because of his constantly expressed desire to go home. This soon became an obvious distraction and to the point where the older boy said, "I just want you to go away." But the younger boy still said insistently, "I just want to go home." Whose eyes do you suppose, the younger or the older, remained fixed on their individual purpose and pursuit?
The parable I have just shared is based on an incident that actually happened. I was actually right in the thick of it on my return flight from a recent wedding. The boy who wanted to go home was just three years old. Oh my - what focus he had! He kept repeating to his mother, desperately over and over, perhaps 40-50 times during the flight, “I want to go home”. The boy and his still younger brother, and the mother, all fell sound asleep about 40 minutes into the flight. For whatever reason, it never occurred to the toddler that he was actually indeed headed home.
The older boy was a young military serviceman who was 23 years old. He and about two dozen other soldiers were headed to a destination for military training. The mother and the two young boys were sitting directly behind us during the flight. This young soldier was seated next to me and it quickly became obvious that he desperately wanted the younger boy to be quiet. He made it very clear by his countenance and gestures. The mother on the other hand had a focus of her own. She was not focused on what people thought, including this clearly agitated serviceman. She simply remained patient with her young son until she could calmly get him calmed down. Quite frankly, I thought she did a remarkable job. I even prayed for her very early in the flight.
Each of these people illustrate a focus. Focus is a term we use for a variety of subjects in everyday life. Focus can relate to an attention span, determination or resolve, or vision in general. It however seems to always have two ends of the spectrum - in or out. A camera out of focus; our concentration on a goal would be considered determination or resolve in focus; and yes, our physical eyes depending on the circumstance can be "in or out" of focus.
Awhile back we had a season in our church where we invited broad participation on vision casting for future ministry. This process was called "Future Focus Forum". It is quite obvious, at least to those who call our church “home”, that this is not something we are focused on at the moment. Some are familiar with the popular Christian organization "Focus on the Family" and James Dobson its founder. The family is indeed a good thing to focus on, as well as vision for church ministry. However, it is not the central subject of this message. Hopefully we will focus our attention here on the "focus" of something else.
In our title, "Fantastic Focus", I had honestly considered the use of the term "fixation" instead of focus. However, it typically brings a negative impression, or shall we say, negative focus! Have you ever had what might be considered a fixation? In an older comedy movie (Dream Team), actor Peter Boyle plays a character with a psychotic condition what is known as "Christ fixation". In this instance, the term had a very negative focus. The man clearly had an unhealthy, deranged and very distorted mental concept. Fixations can come in the form of stalkers of celebrities, secret admirers, and every other manner of unhealthy obsessions. But does it always have, or need to have, a negative connotation as it did in this case? Perhaps it would be beneficial to quickly review the varied meanings of fixation. May I suggest that you do this on your own.
Looking again (focusing) on our scripture passage in Hebrews, is it any wonder that these first two verses in Hebrews 12 follow directly on the heals of the "great faith chapter", Hebrews 11? We all know that faith is the focus of that chapter. Further, is it any wonder that verse two of Hebrews 12 relates our "focus" to the authoring and the perfecting of our faith? The writer of Hebrews has already admonished readers to fix their thoughts on Jesus in the first verse of chapter 3. Why? Because Jesus Himself is the author and perfecter of our faith. Our faith is not a generic one - it is in Christ. He is always front and center. If I cannot keep a steady focus on Christ, the end result is that my faith will never be perfected. Perhaps a steady focus on Jesus, a "Christ Fixation", is not a negative thing after all, at least in the biblical sense. Not only that, but the admonition in Hebrews 12:1 is to throw off everything that hinders, including the sin which so easily entangles us. These simply are among the many “front and center” distractions that take our attention off of Jesus. The spiritual mind and eyes fixed on Christ are, in a protective and preserving sense, an anecdote. Not only that, this particular fixation might be thought of as a holy obsession of which we have no reason whatsoever to be ashamed.
In our parable and true story, we see how easily and quickly we can be distracted from our goal, our purpose. The older boy represents a person without a healthy Christ fixation. The younger boy, rather, represents the one whose eyes are fixed on Christ. Having the simple faith of a child, perhaps we should think of it in these terms. If I am in Christ, I am at home. If I am away from him, even in thought for very long, I am homesick. Put very simply, Jesus is home. There should be a sense of being at home in Christ. The one who fixes their eyes on Christ in this fashion cannot and does not wander very far from home.
I have a pair of binoculars that, in my opinion, have incredible focus. The clarity is simply fantastic. If I think of my own focus on Christ in these terms, I wonder just how fantastic it is? A focus such as the young boy had indeed represents a healthy focus, even a fantastic one. I dream, and pray, that I would be a believer with a fantastic focus on Jesus. I pray that you will be too.
May I admonish you to purpose in your heart today to grow in this grace. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you perfect your Kingly focus, your focus and fixation on Jesus Christ. Remarkable and odd at the same time, we are admonished to focus; fix our eyes; on the eternal unseen (II Corinthians 4:18). That which we see all around us is easy to focus on, but it is temporary. Jesus, at least at the moment, is unseen. He is also eternal. Let's fix our eyes on Him.