We do it all the time, the whole “check out what’s happening over there and over there”. We’re pretty enamored with all the things that everyone else is doing; add in there the lingering reminder that we’ve got Someone waiting to talk to us and to listen to us, and we’re all left with minds pretty divided.
If what we are doing is giving our lives up to be disciples of Jesus Christ, then how do we do as Jesus did and be about the Father’s business and not everyone else’s?
Now I’m not talking gossip here, which is still a worthwhile topic, for sure. What I’m talking about is information being taken in by the disciples of Christ. We’re so quick to say, I love Jesus and all of my life is His! and in the next breath know all there is to know about this person on Instagram or that person with the cool YouTube channel or the lifegroup at church we just need to be a part of.
I’m not going to pretend that I have the inside scoop on what’s ok to take in as a believer and what isn’t, and that isn’t even what I wanted to write about today. What I want to say is that I believe that when a person is fully open to receive the fullness of God as He is willing to reveal it, the thoughts, opinions, choices, musings, likes, dislikes, and questions of others fade away in His presence.
Have you seen the first Avengers Infinity War movie? Kind of like how they all turned to dust, so will the care for anyone else in the presence of the One true God.
This first came to my mind when I started reading Ezekiel earlier this week. Ezekiel was the only prophet of God’s chosen people while they were in exile in Babylon. This is important to know because God’s people were the lone gray duck in a flock of doves, and as any regular person would surmise, they were likely feeling their “outsiderness” pretty hardcore. Lots of looking to the right and the left for these folks.
Anyways, moving on. Ezekiel had his first vision, and as I read it I couldn’t help but notice a repeated descriptive bit of info about these beings that were worshipping God. *Don’t tune out on me here. Hang on because I promise I’m going somewhere that directly affects you.
As he is describing these creatures he says in verse…
9: “As they moved, they did not turn to the right or the left.”
12: “All the living creatures went straight ahead wherever the Spirit directed them; the creatures moved without turning to the right of the left.”
17: “They rolled straight ahead, never swerving off to the side.”
While they worshipped, they never once looked anywhere but straight at God. Oh how many times have I, with eyes closed, looked right and left and behind and down with my thoughts on myself and you and the thing I saw on Instagram that morning.
My first thought is, Man, to be a creature created JUST to worship God. Then my second thought is, Well sheesh, that’s what I was intended for, and that is what I will ONE DAY BE when I reach my Heavenly Home. ((insert all the praise hand emojis here))
These creatures didn’t turn to the right or the left in their worship but kept their gaze on God, and with knees tattered from repetitious repentance, I will strive amidst my flesh to be as close to God’s intended design as I can in this life. We weren’t just made to worship, we were made to see God more than we see anything else.
Case in point, the second time this topic came to my mind: This morning I was reading in Luke 5, and I came upon a story I’ve read time and time again. It’s the story of the man who was lowered into the packed room right in front of Jesus and healed basically because of the faith of his friends. As I read this story this morning, I was, for whatever reason, hyper aware of the sheer number of people that were present at this man’s healing. I imagined what my response would’ve been had it been me. This man wasn’t just surrounded by the people who were all about Jesus’ healing work, but also those who were wildly and verbally against it. As a matter of fact, sandwiched in between the two times Jesus tells this man of his healing, these Pharisees begin to scoff at Jesus and His blasphemy for professing the power to heal.
Instead of focusing our attention on this conversation with Jesus and these Pharisees, let’s think about this guy for a second. Just sitting there on his mat, not sure what happens next. Maybe he’s not sure if he heard Jesus correctly. Maybe he’s not sure if some ceremony needs to take place first. Maybe he thinks it’ll be gradual thing.
If it were me, I’d be pretty focused on the argument happening before me, and the cloud of doubt beginning to form overhead. What if they’re right? I mean, He did this for a couple of other people but who knows if it actually worked for me? What if He isn’t who He claims to be?
Not this man. He didn’t turn to the right or the left. He knew Jesus was who He said He was. He kept his eyes on Jesus and when Jesus told him to get up, he got up.
Then, right in front of their eyes, the man stood up, picked up his bed, and left to go home—full of praises for God! Everyone was stunned. They couldn’t help but feel awestruck, and they praised God, too. The people said, “we’ve seen extraordinary things today!”” -Luke 5:25-26
What if this guy had looked to the right or the left? What if he would have feared the skepticism of those watching or been unsure if Jesus’ words were true? What if he had waited to get up until no one was watching? What if he had, like I would have, been more concerned with the thoughts and opinions of others than with the words coming out of the mouth of Christ?
The count on the Miracles of Christ would’ve been one less (and let me tell you, while there have been MANY over the last 2000 years, each one of them carries the value of Heaven come down), the man would have still been paralyzed, and the people gathered would’ve seen an average argument between the Son of God and some pompous pharisees.
So much takes place when we keep our eyes on Christ. Miracles happen. Praise overflows. The Kingdom widens. And we are exactly where He’s ever-inviting us to be. When we keep our eyes on Christ, we gain the power to stand in the face of adversity.
My friend, this is what we were designed for. We were made to worship, the only problem is that we often worship those around us more than we worship the One who made us. There’s so much talk about the worship of other things, but maybe we need to start talking about how many of us are worshipping one another?
Through comparison, through envy, through striving to keep up with the Joneses, we are in many ways worshipping each other and they ways we believe we can be satisfied through relationships.
“He wants you all to Himself” << Words spoken to me recently that, if I’m honest, He’s probably been trying to tell me for a long time. For no other reason than it is what He completely deserves, can we as the Church, be devoted to moving closer to God and further away from the world in where we focus our worship? In how we spend our time? In what we fix our thoughts on? Not because we want to look good, or because we want to set a good example. Not only is it what He deserves from us, but I think He also knows that when we do, we will feel the most at Home while we wait on this side of our true one.
I give you permission, if ever you see me looking to the right or to the left, to take hold of my chin, and gently return my gaze ahead towards Jesus. I promise, if you’ll let me, I’ll do the same for you.
“Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” -Proverbs 4:25-27