Do I Want Destruction or Life?
John 3:14,15 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
I had one of those days yesterday when my focus was just off. It was not any one thing but rather just a convergence of several different distracting events. I talked to God in the morning, but then I went about my day and got busy with a different schedule than usual. I realized later in the day that I had not turned my thoughts back to God. I began to feel the discomfort of drifting from God, the source of my life and joy.
When enslaved to addiction, my life was a joyless, gray existence. In my focus on me, I pursued the things I thought would bring me pleasure. I found only death and destruction. Though depression is admittedly not one of my usual defects, I came to know it well, in the misery of me. I focused on self, pursued what I wanted and I found despair. I have thus, become quite sensitive to those things which turn my gaze away from the source of my joy and life.
Jesus, in today’s passage, explained how it is that I am continue to know life instead of misery and destruction. In the passage, He referenced the Old Testament story of Moses and the Israelites wandering in the wilderness. God’s people, in the story, (Numbers 21) turned from him so, He sent poisonous snakes to afflict them.
In self-focus, they turned from God and suffered the consequences. In pain, they turned back to God, repenting of their destructive behavior. God then told Moses to make bronze serpent and lift it up high for all to see. All who were bitten by a snake were instructed that they only needed to turn their eyes to the statue and they would live.
Jesus used this picture of faith to explain that He now, is the fulfillment of that story. He is the one to which we are to turn our gaze to find life. We so easily become distracted by a thousand things a day. In our distraction, we pursue everything but God. We thus, cause ourselves misery and conflict. Jesus insists that the solution to our self-inflicted destruction is to continually turn our gaze to him.
Only I am responsible for my focus. To be sure, not everything that would distract me from God is evil. Family, work and normal daily activities are not inherently destructive. It is when I allow those things to turn my eyes from Christ that I start to wander. It requires significant effort and discipline to learn to live my life here on earth while keeping my eyes on Christ. For the sake of pursuing God and life though, I am learning how to do it.
There are those pursuits however, that are completely incompatible with keeping our eyes on Christ. We cannot use drugs, view pornography, gossip or indulge in pride while focusing on him. Those things cannot peaceably coexist with our faith and need to be violently cut from our lives. Others will tell us that we are taking our faith too seriously, but for the sake of finding life instead of death, we know what we must do.
If we want life instead of misery and destruction, we need to daily do whatever it takes to turn our gaze to Christ.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.