This idea of fixing my eyes on Jesus will not let go of me.
Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author, and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The KJV puts it this way:
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;”
The Greek word for fixing or looking is aphorao and means to consider attentively.
To be honest, I have a problem with this idea of looking, because it implies distance, and distance suggests that I can never get close to God. Some churches I have been a part of, with their superstar pastors, have demonstrated what it is like to have a leader that is untouchable, and I have had more of that than I can stand. I have also, because of choices I made, experienced infidelity in marriage and divorce. The battle I had to fight was learning that God did not act like the people who have created false imagery in me. While God may never leave me, I sometimes wonder how embarrassed He is with how I talk or act. In the worst of conditions I have never experienced any distancing toward me on God’s part, but I can assure you I have felt significantly distanced at times. There is no doubt in my mind that this distance I felt was because of my selfish indulgences.
The NET version says: “keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus,..” This version has pulled in both concepts; keeping our eyes on Jesus, and the idea of our fixation upon Him.
Why would you fix your eyes on something?
Detectives do it because they are on the hunt for something. Artists study or set their eyes upon a subject so that they can capture what they see. We, as believers, are told to fix our attention, vision, thoughts, and emotions upon Jesus because I believe that God wants us to live in a state of peace that passes understanding.
To be filled with peace, at a time when it is illogical, passes my understanding. Yet, having read this, and desired it, I find it easier to comprehend knowing that was God in the situation, though I did not know it, and He only wanted good for me.
Hebrews, the faith book, is meant to train us and establish us with the benefit of a solid information, and believable eyewitnesses. If I could equate this life to a trial, the evidence for the prosecution would be overwhelming and beyond a reasonable doubt. In reading Hebrews, I find out that the peace I just spoke of, requires faith, and is wrapped up in my faith.
Is it my faith or God’s?
I suppose both. I have to exhibit some degree of faith in the process of accepting my position within the family of God; I have to act in faith upon God’s promises to me to live in this world; And, God has placed His confidence in me that I will succeed and join Him in eternity. Example: There was a brief time in my life that I was keenly aware of a tremendous faith for healing.
How would I know that? I was a shy person who for the longest time was very timid. Speaking out boldly, or placing my hands upon someone for healing, would have been out of character for me. However, in several circumstances, I saw God’s hand at work in extraordinary ways. Here is where the faith aspect comes in. God’s word tells us to lay our hands on the sick, and they will recover. There is no emotion needed in that, merely obedience. The faith part is acting and letting God do what he said he would.
“Not with bodily eyes, for at present he is not to be looked upon in this manner, but with the eye of the understanding, or with the eye of faith; for faith is a seeing of the Son;” ( John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible)
Having read several commentaries on the passage, I agree with Gill. I believe that the intent is to focus on Jesus at all times and in every circumstance, but that seems impossible to do. When I was at work, I was barraged by customers, to the point that I barely had time for a thought of my own.
Where and how do I squeeze God into this hectic scene?
I know I am not alone in this struggle, because it is a human struggle, and it does not take a detective to realize that few people invest quality time with God to the degree that He becomes predominant in their thinking. For me to say, I am looking at Jesus with the eye of my faith makes it sound like I am very spiritual, although I sometimes wish I could be like Enoch and simply walk off the earth, that will never happen. In reality, this ability to stay focused on God seems to imply some act of our inward man that can operate aside from the circumstances the body is experiencing. What we are talking about here could be nothing more than the ability to reason, and that ability to reason would have to include the mind, would it not?
For the skeptics who think this inward man talk is something new age, I give you Paul’s own words.
2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB 16) Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
If you consider our beginnings then this inward man idea may make more sense. In Genesis 1:27 we see God creating man in His image.
NASB “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
God’s image is a spirit, therefore the man was a spirit, and, just like the Father, eternal. We don’t see a body on the man until Genesis 2:7, after the completion of the earth.
John 4:23-24 NASB “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24) “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
This plays a role in our understanding of death as well, for the spirit never dies. Since the spirit never dies, then how did Adam understand this death that was to come upon him should he partake of the forbidden fruit? Because of the eternal nature of the spirit, death, in one regard, would have to mean eternal separation from the Father God. God, in the form of Jesus, had no intention of allowing that to happen as long as He could do something about it, and therefore, through Christ’s activities in “death”, we were redeemed. Paul, in Ephesians, speaks of a mystery.
Ephesians 1:6-9 NASB to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7) In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8) which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9) He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.
It is almost overwhelming when you let it all sink in.
It would seem that the spirit, which wars against the flesh, can function independently of the body.
Galatians 5:17 NASB For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
If that is the case then I should be able to have a conversation with you and the Father at the same time. In truth, I am not that good. If I have too many conversations going on at the same time, then someone is going to lose in the battle for my attention.
I believe that Paul was speaking to this distinction between the spirit and the flesh when he wrote:
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 1 Corinthians 14:14 NASB
Perhaps I am missing the point. It may be that Paul is saying that the spirit bypasses human reasoning. I have never been able to pray in the spirit without involving my mind, as something had to initiate this conversation. That does not mean that if I am praying in the spirit (that means praying in tongues to me,) that I am always keenly aware of what I am praying, but I always have a general idea.
Do not despair at the apparent futility of this exercise of the tongue for James tells us that God gives wisdom to those that ask. Is he talking about understanding everything that you might say in tongues? Probably not, but at least we have the opportunity to understand a great deal of what we say in tongues.
Since the topic had to do with fixing our eyes on Jesus. I think we have found that there is so much more to this simplistic phrase. Fixing my eyes on Jesus entails all of me, body soul and spirit. And, the spirit wants to take a well-needed advantage of the desire to commune with the Father. Now, this is where I could move into an entire teaching on aspects of our communications with, not only the Father but the body of Christ as well.
Back to my struggles with fixing my eyes on Jesus (A funny thing happened as I wrote this. I slipped up and wrote ears instead of eyes; I have since fixed that error. Why that might be funny is because if we could hear what God is saying, and respond, then maybe we would be walking as Enoch did. We have no evidence that Enoch saw God. So then, any seeing would have been by faith. Hearing, on the other hand, is a different story altogether.)
So, as I was trying to deal with the continual onslaught of customers at work, I could at the same time be praying in the spirit on the inside If I can pray in the spirit, then I can have communication with the Father at the same time too. I think it would primarily be Him talking to me.
The trick in this is to fine-tune your listening skills.
You should be aware that there are too few of us that have any clue how to listen to others. With your insight, you picked up on something. How does one fine-tune their listening skills so that God becomes the focus? Prayer, which is merely conversations you are having with God, often on behalf of others; that, and spending time in His word. The words that God uses currently, are no different in theme, from those he has already spoken. Trust me on this one, God can speak your language. How many translations of the Bible are there?, many, and yet He has brought innumerable lives into the family by speaking their language or slang. There is always the skeptic who does not believe that God speaks all the time. While God is not just incessantly rambling to hear His head rattle, as we often do, but there is a purpose in everything He says.
Keep this in mind as you read your Bible; everything in that book has a purpose. For example, why does the Gospel of John emphasize things like the cloth that was folded so precisely in the tomb (there was a reason); why is the trip to Samaria a three-day journey?; Why did Jesus go to the Samaritans, they were effectively Gentiles, and going there was contrary to his stated mission? There are things that all throughout the Bible that seem like nothing and yet the Jewish leadership believes that when the Messiah returns (he already did) that he will explain even the spaces between the letters; they are that serious about God’s word. If only we were that serious about His Word as well.