I’ve been following several stories this past week and trying to take it all in. There was the Chick-fil-a flap. (You can read my comments about it here and here and here.) There was the removal of a prominent Baptist Fundamentalist pastor in Indiana (here and here). (If you want to understand why some women hate Christianity, watch this tirade by dismissed pastor Jack Schaap if you can stomach it.) And then there was more discussion of women in the church with a series on a prominent complementarian website that has left me scratching my head more than once (here for the introduction and to find the subsequent posts).
Although each scenario is different, I think they all have the same problem.
People do not have their eyes fixed on Jesus.
After the Chick-fil-a support day, a prominent blogger expressed that what she saw that day left her faith in shreds and that she was hanging on by her nails. She didn’t recognize her church and was apparently completely distraught over people supporting Chick-fil-a which she saw as damaging to her friends on the other side of the fence.
A pastor was caught in an abusive sexual relationship with a sixteen year old girl. Church members were stunned. The senior pastors in this church (both current and past) are seen in an almost God-like way. It is almost cult-ish the way he was followed even in the midst of some seriously bizarre teachings. Some church members are commenting online, floundering in trying to redeem the situation because they cannot come to terms with what this man (who was next to God to them) has done.
And then there are discussions about women in the church and in marriage that consistently make me wonder why people feel this need to have someone in charge, in a position of authority in a marriage. The verbal and theological hoops that people are willing to jump through to maintain a teaching just astound me at times.
And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
While he was preaching, I thought of a verse God gave me many years ago that He has confirmed to me time and time again. Jeremiah 33:3 tells us:
Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
I suspect that most, if not all, of our problems as Christians stem from taking our eyes off Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 exhorts us:
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith…
In every time of low spiritual health, I have taken my eyes off Jesus. I have neglected to eagerly seek God in faith, but have looked at circumstances instead. I have not called on God, expecting Him to show me great and mighty things but have looked to people for answers.
Jesus is the author and perfecter of my faith.
Jesus is the one who will point me to truth, comfort me, guide me, and carry me.
When people fix their eyes on social justice instead of Jesus, there will be despair.
When people fix their eyes on prominent teachers instead of Jesus, there will be tragic outcomes.
When people fix their eyes on theological nuances instead of Jesus, there will be disappointment and disillusionment.
Any time we fix our eyes on anything temporal – movements, teachers, pastors, doctrines, etc. – we will end up in trouble. The only thing we can fix our eyes on that will not disappoint is Jesus. He is the author and perfecter of our faith. He knows the beginning and the end of our faith journey with Him and will walk with us faithfully every step in-between.
If our faith is shattered by the actions of others, we have taken our eyes off of Jesus.
If our faith revolves around a charismatic leader in a denomination or using a certain Bible version, we have taken our eyes off Jesus.
If our faith is dependent on having the right answer to every theological debate, we have taken our eyes off Jesus.
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”