So many times, in trying to pursue God we end up pursuing instead a ritual, habit, or practice (insert your word here) that we believe is the fool proof way to draw closer to Jesus. We look for things of Christ instead of looking for Christ himself. If completing an easy (or even hard) 3 step process brings us closer to God, then what we are really trying to do, albeit subconsciously, is bring, or lure in, God’s gifts to us, instead of chasing after, whole heartedly, the one who died for our salvation.
The founding principle of Christianity is not the cause of Jesus, or the principles of Jesus, but Jesus himself. Jesus never preached of pursuing a cause although his principles have been used to create cause. Love for example, is widely accepted as a good and just cause, worthy of sacrificing for. However, when the topic turns from “love” to “love in Christ” or “in love with Christ” the supportive attitude can often fade. No, Jesus is not about a good cause, he said “Come, follow me” Matthew 4:19 and “…whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:39b (emphasis added). Jesus is about us pursuing only him, about us doing what he would ask, and through obedience, draw closer to Him, further from where we were. Constantly becoming more and more like our creator.
I’ve found in my own devotional habits, a time when it didn’t feel like I was drawing closer to Jesus. It felt stagnant. I changed what I was reading, I changed when I was reading, I changed how I prayed, How I worshiped, where I prayed, read and worshiped, and I even tried getting up much earlier than I had been to do these things. Still, it felt stagnant, like I was just spinning my wheels. It was like the scripture I had been reading, that had previously been the very words of God had suddenly just become text on a page. Finally, through a prayer book I was reading at the time, I was challenged to begin to journal. Not being one to back down from a challenge, I tried it. I was then challenged to specifically journal about what God was teaching me at that point in time of my life. I had no idea what the answer to that question was. That’s when I realized that I had been focused on the what instead of the who. I was focused on getting the ritual right to bring God to me, instead of looking only for God and what he was asking of me. There’s no 3 easy steps to Jesus. Jesus said in Matthew 16:24 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up the cross and follow me.”(emphasis added). It’s Jesus. It’s not three easy steps (or whatever number), it’s not a good cause, or the latest public support trend. It’s just Jesus. Matthew 6:31-33 says “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Our focus need only be on Him.
In Luke chapter 10, a women named Martha opened her home to Jesus, a principle that Jesus himself taught, “love your neighbor as yourself”. But in verse 42 it was Martha’s sister Mary, who Jesus commended, not Martha. What did Mary do that was so right? Mary put her focus on Jesus and let the other priorities that she would have otherwise tended to, fall so she could put her entire focus on Jesus. Martha, was tending to those other priorities, preparing a meal for a guest in her home (an otherwise noble cause), while Mary was concerned with hanging on to every word the Messiah had to say. So many times in life we have legitimate tasks that are good, but being a Christian isn’t just about the pursuit of good, It’s about the pursuit of Christ. The afore mentioned scripture in Matthew chapter 6 does not say pursue kingdoms and pursue righteousness. It says pursue HIS kingdom, and HIS righteousness. It’s time we stop compromising for principles that are talked about in reference to Jesus and start pursuing Jesus himself.
What are some areas in your life where you’ve been pursuing good things related to Christ instead of Christ himself?