We Do vs Christ Did
Have you ever noticed how often we focus upon ourselves - our performance - when it comes to our faith? Much of the time, it seems, we spend far too much effort concentrating on ourselves instead of the beauty and magnificence of God. Or, we're constantly concerned about what we do rather than what Christ did.
Many of us do this. And it's not because we're obsessed with bad things. We want to know how to be more faithful disciples. We want to grow in our faith. We want to be joyful, content, etc. But that's part of the problem: we, we, we, we.
Without meaning to, and with no malicious intent, our faith can become all about us - our needs and our wants. But this inward focus, instead of helping us become more faithful Christians, can often work against us. How?
Well, interestingly, one of the ways a Christian can lapse into spiritual depression is by being so inward focused that the weight of our spiritual short-comings and unworthiness can begin to crush us. As we compare ourselves to where God has called us to be or where other Christians are, we can move quickly into despair because, in our self-assessment, we keep coming up short.
That's why some of the best counsel I ever received when I was at such a place a number of years ago was this: Take the focus off of myself and spend some considerable time dwelling on our incomparable Christ. Because when it comes down to it, it's not about me, it's about him. It's not about my performance... what I can do, but what he has done.
It's only when I begin to really believe and embrace that truth that I get back to following Christ in a positive way.
What I discovered is that attempting to draw strength from myself is a fount that will eventually dry up. But going to the One who is Living Water is where we find a never-ending source of strength, grace, and love.
Our Incomparable Christ
The other risk of such intense self-focus is that when we concentrate so much on ourselves, our work, our story, our faith, and so on, we give the distinct impression to the rest of the world that Christianity is about us and not about Christ.
Therefore, in the next few posts I want to explore the riches of our incomparable Christ found in Hebrews 1:1-4. I hope by spending time focusing on his greatness and majesty, we might be encouraged and reminded why Jesus, and not ourselves, is much more worthy of our continual gaze.
In their study guide, "Being God's Man in the Face of Temptation," Steven Arterburn, Kenny Luck, and Todd Wendorff introduce the topic of men's temptations by listing a sort of "Top Ten" (in this case, it's only eight) temptations men face. They say a man is tempted to...
These are the areas they unpack throughout the rest of the study. I thought it might be helpful and good for me to revisit this study (which I did ten years ago) and see how my answers I wrote then match my thinking today. And, in the process, I hope to be able share some wisdom with you as well as receive some wisdom from you on these issues.
Five key ideas this study helps to provide us are...
You can order your own copy of the study guide here. I encourage you to do so as I found it to be a great blessing in helping me grow in godliness.
Featuring R.C. Sproul
Produced by Ligonier Ministries
John 3:1-15 (ESV)
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
The Fellowship of Ailbe
Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
C.S. Lewis Institute
The Gospel Coalition
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Every Square Inch Ministries
Gene Edward Veith
Center for Cultural Leadership
Church and Culture