When I’m driving, I have a tendency to try to beat my best time. Even when driving through the mountains, I tend to blow past the gentle stream, miss seeing the bear just beyond the edge of the woods, lose sight of the sunset, trying to make it somewhere before dark.
There have been times when I’ve forgotten to step outside our place in the mountains and look up to see the stars. In the area where we go to retreat, there are very few lights. The darkness reveals the splendor of God’s creation. I can miss that in the city. I can get too busy walking in manmade light that I forget the one who lights the sky with His glory every night.
Sometimes even sincere believers can miss Jesus. We get so caught up in things that are secondary. The list is endless, but let me name a few that are good … but if we are not careful they become like little gods in our lives that block our view of Jesus.
- Our favorite author
- Christian entertainment (movies, dramas, etc.)
- Our denominational preference
- Our worship preferences
- Our theological bent
- Our preferred translation
- Our preferred end times position
We can get convoluted and tangled up in secondary things and get diverted on the road of life. There’s a simple formula for life: look to Jesus. If you look to anyone else, they will let you down. You don’t need a middleman; you have a Great High Priest who ever lives to make intercession for you. He is your Advocate.
We need to be like the woman with the issue of blood in the Gospels. She had tried every doctor, every method, but nothing worked. Finally, in desperation she pushed through the crowd, using every ounce of strength she had just to touch the hem of the garment of Jesus.
As it states in the King James Version, many “thronged” Him that day, but she “touched” Him and “power” came on her life and she was healed. What if she had bought the lie of the faith healers of that day who were imitators? What if she had sent that seed faith gift, believing the words of a TV preacher? She would have died broken and broke. Instead, she walked away whole.
With the plethora of TV and radio preachers, hundreds of Bible study resources, dozens of different kinds of study Bibles, Christian fiction and more, you can see how we could miss Jesus. Who do you listen to? Vance Havner said, “Even Bible scholars sometimes hinder more than they help. I have read books about guidance, healing, assurance and power that confused more than they clarified. I had to lay all that aside and come firsthand to the Lord for myself.”
Some people teach and act like they’ve got it all figured out. They don’t. If they are honest, they are fellow strugglers. They don’t have all the answers. They aren’t even sure of all the questions. Sometimes you just need to lay aside the commentaries, turn off the TV and radio and get to Jesus.
When’s the last time you cleared your head enough to read John 3:16 without trying to fit it into your system of salvation theology? When’s the last time you read John 14 and didn’t think about a funeral message? When’s the last time you looked at Psalms 23 and never got past, “the Lord is MY shepherd …” as you thought about all the things a shepherd does for his sheep?
Today we’ve got arguments, blogs and tweets for our preferred positions and doctrinal preferences. While doctrinal integrity is essential, we may, in fact, get to heaven and find out we overanalyzed everything. Some folks obsessed with theology are like a sponge. They’ve soaked up a lot, but they need to get squeezed out in real life. They sit, soak and sour. They stink because their contrived theology of the classroom doesn’t work in the coal mine, on the back of a garbage truck, in a hospital room, at a hospice bed or in the death of a child.
Dr. Havner used to say the Lord healed three blind men in three distinctively different ways. I would say, if it were left up to the 21st-century clowns of Christianity, we’d have three different seminaries for healing the blind—the one-touch school, the two-touch school and the go-wash-in-Siloam school. It wasn’t the method; it was Jesus. They just had to get to Jesus. All three were blind, and all three got their sight. Isn’t that the point?
Is there any passion in your heart to get to Jesus? Are you trusting Jesus or your ideas about Jesus? There are two gods being worshiped today in our churches and seminaries: God as He is and God as we’ve created Him in our image. Make sure you are worshiping the right one. Just get to Jesus. On the way, make sure some Bible scholar doesn’t tell you it can’t be that easy. It is. That’s why the simple and common people of His day loved Him so.
Just remember, the Pharisees breed. They will take you on detours, or they will keep you so busy with their systems of thought you never stop to look up and see the wonder of it all. In the race of life, make sure you slow down enough to get to Jesus. It would be a shame to accomplish much in man’s eyes and find it to be wood, hay, and stubble in the eyes of God.
Watch out for Pharisees—they breed their preferences and arrogant positions and often fail to see the naked, cold, hurting people of this world. Thus, the world has a hard time seeing Jesus because Pharisees are blocking the view. Push them to the side. Look full into the face of Jesus. You’ll find in Him all you need and all you’ve ever wanted.
I’m now to the point where I realize I’ve wasted a lot of time in ministry pursuing secondary things. I’m working hard not to do that anymore. Life is short. This is not a dress rehearsal. There are no do-overs. Maybe you’ve been guilty of some of these secondary traps. I certainly have.
- Wanting to be liked and accepted by my peers
- Wanting to make a name for the church
- Wanting to focus on church growth, instead of church health (Only healthy churches can grow New Testament churches. Anyone can get a crowd—just look at the circus, a rodeo or a sporting event.)
- Feeling the need to be at the denominational meetings so people know me
- Feeling the need to please people in the congregation
- Feeling the need to fit in and look the part
- Longing for the approval of family and friends
- Oiling the machinery so the system keeps working
- Fighting with people over theological differences, knowing they aren’t going to change and I probably won’t either
- Looking for the hip conference where I can find the latest method
All this is vanity. It’s secondary. It’s useless, meaningless and gets our eye off of Jesus. We settle for the grind of serving our church or denomination rather than the joy of serving Jesus. Don’t confuse the two; they are worlds apart. Their paths rarely intersect.
It’s time for me – and maybe for you – to get back on the simple path. It’s time to look up to Jesus. It’s time to lay aside sins that easily beset us and secondary things that easily entangle us. It all begins in an honest confession of our desperate, absolute need for Jesus. Vance Havner said, “Blessed is the man who wakes up in time to see how he is being deceived by these peddlers of new light.”
Spurgeon said, “In the days of Paul, the sum and substance of theology was Jesus Christ. If you ask what is my creed, I must answer Jesus Christ.” A. B. Simpson noted, “Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord.”
There is one plumb line, one center for us to focus on, one person, and that is Jesus. Anything else, no matter how good or sincere, will get us off balance. Paul said it best, “Christ, who is our life …” Lord, may it be so.