I had a friend tell me once, “You Lutherans talk too much about Jesus.” I took that as a compliment, while he meant it as a criticism. But it speaks to a problem in a lot of modern Christianity: not enough talk about Jesus. Can you ever have too much Jesus? No, that’s impossible. In fact, our problems are often precisely caused because we are casting our eyes, thoughts, hearts and minds elsewhere rather than fixing them on Jesus.
How many people find themselves feeling lost, empty and hopeless when they do not “feel” something in their hearts, or look at their lives and see that there is little there that “proves” to them that God loves them. What do Christians do who do not see grand “progress” in their desire to love God? What happens when you find yourself making the same mistakes, despite your best efforts? What is one to do? Look to Christ. Set your eyes on Jesus.
All the while Christ is right there, where He always is, in the precious Gospel that is blessedly outside of us, that is, in a good news that never, ever, depends on how I feel, or what I think, or what my attitude is. Our emotions and thoughts ebb and flow and go up and down, from one day to the next. But Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Looking within ourselves we see our sin. We see the depth of the darkness of our doubts, our fears, our worries, our concerns, and the impact of the old evil foe’s temptation. We confess that sin. We look outside of ourselves to the light of Christ, that comes, as it always does, bursting into the darkness, dispelling it. We look to Christ.
Christ is for me. Christ is, as we sing in A Mighty Fortress, by my side, upon the plain, with His good gifts and Spirit.
I’ve so often counseled hurting, grieving, confused Christians to fix their eyes on Jesus. Look to Christ. Cling to Christ. Focus on Him. You will always be disappointed if you choose to look inside of yourself for comfort or security. You will always be let down if you put your hope and trust in other human beings, no matter how close they are to you. You will always be disappointed if you put your hope, security or feelings of personal worth in your job, your marriage, an organization, an institution, even in the earthly manifestation of the Church on earth (a particularly insidious danger, I might add).
St. Paul discovered the secret of being content and joyful, even in the midst of sorrow: Christ. “In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:12-13). And in Galatians 2:20 we understand precisely what Paul means, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
There is the “secret” of the Christian life: Christ and Him crucified for you, and for me.
It’s all about Jesus. Christ loves you, with an eternal love. Nothing can separate you from His love, in all creation. Nothing. He has you firmly in His arms. He has purchased and won you from sin, death and the power of the devil, not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death. Why? So that you may be His own, and live under Him, in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness.
Amen, and God bless!