In my last blog post about the powerful prayer from Colossians 1:9-14, Tim made this observant comment:“The other thing that strikes me from Paul’s prayer is that he is not praying that the Colossians would fill themselves up and do great things for God, but he’s praying that God will fill them and out of that fullness the Colossians would bear God’s fruit.” – Do you see what Tim is getting at? Do you see the subtle yet significant difference? Too often it ends up about US doing great things FOR God (a self focus), rather than about GOD doing great things THROUGH us (a God-focus).
Human beings seem naturally prone to self-centeredness. Admit it. We are all guilty of making ourselves the focus. Because of this natural inclination, I have concerns about theologies or approaches to the Christian life that have a self focus – whether it be overt or subtle. We are prone to this weakness already without something that further puts the spotlight on us. I actually have more concern with the subtle things, as it can be more easily overlooked and have an insidious influence without us realizing it.
Certain segments of evangelicalism are particularity guilty of this in my opinion. What is Christianity all about? It’s about having “the best life now” or having victory or knowing your purpose. I saw a sermon on Noah entitled “How courage can help YOU conquer a storm” and one on Rebekkah entitled “How generosity can multiply YOUR impact.” Sigh. Really? Yes, there are personal lessons we can apply to our individual lives, but we have moved the spotlight from God to us. Even though I vaguely reference “certain segments of evangelicalism”, I think we can all inadvertently slip into a spiritually narcissistic approach.
Hebrews 12:2 instructs us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” It seems so easy to fix our eyes on ourselves: our goals, our purpose, our victory. This certainly does not mean we should be aimless and without goals in our Christian life! But where is our ultimate focus? Fixing our eyes on Jesus should bring many things into proper perspective and balance. This was recently tweeted by Scotty Smith:
“The Gospel isn’t about the “victorious Christian life” but about the victorious Christ! We matter, but He is the point.”
Some might say this is just word semantics, but I think the difference is critical and significant. Our goal is not self-confidence, but confidence in Christ and what Christ can do in our lives. With a proper focus on Christ, I think many other things will be likely to fall into place and we can more easily rest in our position in HIM regardless of how our life seems to be going in the present time.