The importance of focus
A lot of Christians live on the defensive, spending more time trying to avoid sin than living the Christian life. As a result many believers in Jesus think that if they can live a clean life and not “blow it,” then they have succeeded. But Jesus did not die just so we could live a good life. We are all called to impact the world around us. We rightly point to the death and resurrection of Jesus as the greatest history making event ever. But we should remember that Jesus was already a history maker before he died, and most of what he did to impact the world around him occurred in his regular daily activities. True, he did not have a 9-5 job, but wherever he went, he touched the lives of those around him, and we can do the same. But we will not impact lives if we forget that we are supposed to. How many times have we come across hurting and needy people and did not even think to stop and pray for the or help them in some way? Sometimes we are thinking about other things and we just forget that we are Jesus’ hands and feet in this world. If we are firmly focused on Jesus, we will not be able to forget. But If our vision gets blurred, we may easily get caught up in the mundane activities of life and lose sight of the lives we are meant to impact each and every day. What can we do to make sure our focus is where it should be, and that the fulfillment of our daily destiny is not being choked?
About a year ago, I acquired a case of vertigo. Most of the time I felt fine, but sudden movements of my head would produce dizziness. A few months later I joined a summer basketball league. I am not normally a good shooter, but when I went the entire season without scoring a single long jump shot, I knew something was wrong. I went to the gym and practiced my shooting. I did not feel dizzy, yet I could not shoot well at all. Finally, as I prepared to take a jump shot, I stopped and stared at the rim of the basket for a few seconds. I tried to focus on it as best I could. It was then that I realized the rim seemed to be vibrating. I was unable to focus perfectly on the rim because vertigo was blurring my vision. The interesting thing is, in the normal course of dribbling and shooting, I was unaware of this problem with my focus. It was only when I stopped and analyzed it that I realized what my problem was.
I think there are many in the church who truly believe they are focused on Jesus, but do not realize that their vision is actually slightly blurred. They go to church on Sundays and try to keep themselves pure from sin, but they do not regularly do anything to make a difference in the lives of others around them. They lack vision for their lives and do not possess the sense of purpose that drove Jesus to live and die for us.
The centrality of Jesus is not placing Jesus somewhere in front of you as a target to shoot for. If Jesus is truly the center, he must be the bulls eye, not just the target. To lose focus does not mean you are no longer fixing your eyes on him. In fact, it means you are. When taking a picture, one cannot determine that the camera is out of focus unless it is pointed at the subject about to be photographed. Yet many Christians think they are focused on Jesus simply because they keep him in their so-called field of vision, when in fact, other things that are also in their field of vision are attracting attention away from Jesus, resulting in spiritual blurry vision. They still confess Jesus, but dozens of people cross their paths on a daily basis whom they can impact with the love of Jesus, but they do not, because they are too focused on themselves and on what they are doing to see the need before them. Are we not all guilty of this to some extent?
Whatever we do we should do to the best of our ability. But if our focus is squarely on Jesus, we will always be aware of the potential to do more than just the task at hand. There may be a life we can impact along the way. What I refer to as spiritual vertigo is our tendency to see clearly enough to know we are walking in the right path, and are becoming more like Jesus, yet at the same time to fail to see the many ways in which we can affect the lives of others around us on a moment to moment basis. It does not have to be street witnessing. It can be paying a compliment to a stranger, or helping an aged person get a 10-lb bag of dog food in their car, or asking if everything is okay when you notice a sad look on someone’s face, and offering to pray for them. Most of the things we can do to draw people closer to Jesus are not highly confrontational, but simple things that brighten their day, and in that brightness a glimmer of Jesus shines into their hearts and makes an invisible difference that we may never know about.
The cure for spiritual vertigo is simple: we must fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. If our eyes are on him, his thoughts will be in us and our vision will be clear to know what he wants to do in any situation of our lives. To see if our vision is blurred, we should periodically stop and analyze ourselves. Asking a few simple questions can be helpful in this regard.
(1) In what I am doing, am I drawing people around me closer to Jesus, or am I validating their Christ-less existence?
(2) Is my presence here giving a testimony to others that I am not of this world? In other words, will I have to tell the people around me that I am a follower of Jesus, or does my behavior already communicate that message?
(3) What does Jesus want to do? In short, we can just ask, what would Jesus be doing if he were present, and then do it.
This is what I believe is at the heart of what some people call practicing the presence of Jesus. If Jesus is truly central in our lives, God will use us to impact the lives of those around us. Let us keep our focus on Jesus, remembering that God has an eternal purpose even in the mundane activities of our everyday lives..