Ephesians 1:18 “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind so that you can see what hope his call holds for you, what rich glories he has promised the saints will inherit.” Most commentators agree “enlighten the eyes of our minds” is the understanding that God is calling us to be Christians. To be a Christian we must be focused on and truly see Jesus.
Max begins this chapter with the following comments: “We’ve spent the last twelve chapters looking at what it means to be just like Jesus. The world has never known a heart so pure, a character so flawless. His spiritual hearing was so keen he never missed a heavenly whisper. His mercy so abundant he never missed a chance to forgive. No lie left his lips, no distraction marred his vision. He touched when others recoiled. He endured when others quit. Jesus is the ultimate model for every person. And what we have done in these pages is precisely what God invites you to do with the rest of your life. He urges you to fix your eyes upon Jesus. Heaven invites you to set the lens of your heart on the heart of the Savior and make him the object of your life. For that reason, I want us to close our time together with this question: What does it mean to see Jesus?”
Throughout the book, Max has used the wording, “the rest of your life.” No matter what your present state, it’s never too late to see Jesus nor have you wandered too far from him that you can’t still be like Jesus! Fixing your eyes on Jesus will change everything. Look up the hymn, Lord, I’m Coming Home. It’s excellent encouragement!
The shepherds, the Magi and Simeon all wanted to see this new baby, Jesus, once he was born. In Luke 2:29-30 MSG vision Simeon prayed: “God, you can now release your servant, release me as you promised. With my own eyes I’ve seen your salvation.” Simeon saw more than just a new baby; he saw the savior for the world. He saw your savior!
Max writes about the men who became apostles once they encountered Jesus. They did not want to just physically see Jesus but wanted to spend time with him to understand his teachings. Zacchaeus was willing to climb a tree in order to see the teacher and to hear him. To these men Jesus was not some sports hero or rock star they wanted to see and get an autograph, he held the key to salvation. They wanted to know him and his teachings.
Matthew 19:16 records the question the rich young ruler asked Jesus: “Teacher what good thing must I do to have life forever?” Unlike the apostles and Zacchaeus who wanted to know Jesus he wanted the short answer without details. Max writes about the young ruler: “Bottom line sort of fellow, this ruler. No time for formalities or conversations. ‘Let’s get right to the issue. Your schedule is busy; so is mine. Tell me how I get saved, and I’ll leave you alone’.”
“There is nothing wrong with his question, but there was a problem with his heart. Contrast his desire with that of Zacchaeus, ‘Can I make it up that tree?’ The apostles wanted to spend time with Jesus.”
Max continues: “See the difference? The rich, young ruler wanted medicine. The others wanted the Physician. The ruler wanted an answer to the quiz. They wanted the teacher. They wanted more than salvation. They wanted the Savior. They wanted to see Jesus.” When the young man understood Jesus’ answer to his question, he went away sad. He did not intend to give his riches to the poor nor to follow Jesus. He wanted the quick fix. He was not interested in being just like Jesus.
Max points us to Hebrews 11:6: “God … rewards those who earnestly seek him” NIV translation
“God rewards those who search for him.” Phillips translation
“God …. Rewards those who sincerely look for him.” TLB translation
“He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” King James version.
Max: “Diligently---what a great word. Be diligent in your search. Be diligent in your quest, relentless in your pilgrimage. Let this book be but one of dozens you read about Jesus and this hour be one of hundreds in which you seek him. Step away from the puny pursuits of possessions and positions and seek your king.”
There are so many distractions in our daily lives that it is easy for Jesus to get pushed down our list of priorities. Careers, our spouses and their needs, our children and their activities, then grandchildren, our hobbies and other interests too often take precedence over our relationship building with Jesus. Precious little time is spent in studying about Jesus and in prayer to become more like him. Some believe: “I go to Sunday school and the worship service on Sunday morning and Sunday night then Bible study on Wednesday night. Doesn’t that prove I’m just like Jesus?” No, Jesus was about so much more. He focused on serving people. God gave us talents so we can serve people in order to be just like Jesus. He has made an investment in us with his blessings. He wants us to enjoy our blessings, but he also expects us to use them to serve him and glorify his name.
Max: “God rewards those who seek him. Not those who seek doctrine or religion or systems or creeds. Many seek for those lesser passions, but the reward goes to those who settle for nothing less than Jesus himself. And what is the reward? What awaits those who seek Jesus? Nothing short of the heart of Jesus. “And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him” 2 Corinthians 3:18 TLB.”
Max writes in his book, Stronger In The Broken Places: “How does a person get relief?”
Which, in turn, takes us to one of the kindest verses in the Bible, “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept my teachings and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The teaching I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light” (Matt. 11:28—30).
Max continues: “You knew I was going to say that. I can see you holding this book and shaking your head. “I’ve tried that. I’ve read the Bible; I’ve sat on the pew—but I’ve never received relief.” If that is the case, could I ask a delicate but deliberate question? Could it be that you went to religion and didn’t go to God? Could it be that you went to a church, but never saw Christ?” “Come to me,” the verse reads.” Christ does not ask us to come to religion but to him.”
Some will have issue with what I’m writing here but please give thought to these viewpoints. Many focus time and thought on making sure their doctrine and their religion are “perfect”, and too little time trying to be Just Like Jesus. If “perfect doctrine and religion” are a condition of our salvation, then we have a problem. Nothing about us is perfect! Not our interpretations, our actions or even our intentions to be like Jesus. If we fail God with lying, alcohol, pride, gossip, and other sins, what makes us think that our doctrine is perfect?
Some examples to think on:
- At one time, it was believed that the King James version was the only version of the Bible we could trust.
- Prayers used the old English reference of “thee” and “thou” when addressing God. Use of “you” was not respectful.
- Gyms or fellowship halls were frowned on as misuse of God’s money.
- Even though there are references in the Bible, (I Timothy 2:8 and all through Psalm) to lifting hands during worship, some frown on the idea.
- Praise teams are generally a soprano, alto, tenor and bass with microphones. They assist the song leader. A number of people have a problem with using this in worship because the Bible does not authorize the use. Where does the Bible authorize a song leader? At North Boulevard, the praise team is in the balcony so as not to draw attention. I’m not a good singer and the team makes it much more meaningful for me.
I believe these are examples of Jesus words in Matthew 23:24: “You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
These are just a few of the changes I’ve seen in my life. My questions: Are these matters of our salvation or our own personal preferences and comfort level? Do we spend as much thought and effort trying to be Just Like Jesus, as we do making our own personal doctrine perfect? I’m not being critical of those who believe in these things. If you want to believe in these things, that’s fine there’s wrong with them. But don’t make them conditions of your acceptance of others. If you do, you are focused on yourself and not seeing Jesus.
Romans 3:23-24 (NIV): “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” The verses say we ALL sin and have redemption through Christ not our religion nor doctrine.
In a recent obituary: “She was a true Christian, living every minute of every day in the manner she believed he intended.” Sounds like she had her eyes on Jesus.
Max closes with these thoughts: “Can you think of a greater gift than to be like Jesus? Christ felt no guilt; God wants to banish yours. Jesus had no bad habits; God wants to remove yours. Jesus had no fear of death; God wants you to be fearless. Jesus had kindness for the diseased and mercy for the rebellious and courage for the challenges. God wants you to have the same.”
“He loves you just the way you are, but he refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.”
From Meeting God in Quiet Places by F. LaGard Smith: “Our greatest gift from God was Jesus “the Lamb.” The pure Lamb. The righteous Lamb in whom was no sin. The lamb on whom we can fix our eyes and whom we can imitate freely with the confident assurance of being transformed into the likeness of his glory!”
I encourage you to share your thinking. Let hear from you.
Just Like Jesus written by Max Lucado, Published by Word Publishing – 1998 – Used with permission