Turn your Thoughts (Eyes) Upon Jesus
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace” Hellen Lemmel
I have always liked this old hymn, ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’. To breathe in the meaning of those words can move you from darkness to light, from hopelessness to hope, from this depressing world to another realm of hopeful existence. At least it has me.
Yet I must warn you … there is a powerful side-effect to this acceptance. Those words will not only remain you … their meaning and reality will progressively grow and consume your attachments for earthly things.
Over the years, the more my heart becomes set on Jesus and His Kingdom, the less I feel that I belong to or will ever fit in this world. The less I deem the things of this world worthy of my attention, the more I fall behind in ‘keeping up with or fitting in with’ my fellow human beings. I began feeling like an alien from outer space … someone who doesn’t belong here. Someone who can’t fit in and greatly desires to be somewhere else anyway.
I progressively can no longer fully understand why people laugh or cry at the things they do. Things like western culture, movies, books, news, or even everyday life. I find myself at odds with so many ‘common’ human reactions, which causes people to ask all the time … “what’s wrong with you ?.”
Sometimes it makes me wonder if I should even be here on this earth or not. It's not just that most of the time I find myself progressively on the fringes of ‘normal human reactions’… it’s that I no longer am able to understand them in others. Therefore I find it near impossible even to follow their train of thought. As I stated earlier … I sometimes wonder why am I here. Do you ever wonder that?
It’s kind of like watching a Chinese movie with subtitles and wondering why the characters are laughing, crying, or become shocked at whats happening in the movie. I watch and think … that wasn’t funny, sad, or shocking. It’s because their reactions are different being shaped by their different culture. Just like ours haa been shaped by our culture. Yet, we … the children of heaven should have received a different culture as well.
It is comforting to know that when reasoning with himself about leaving or staying the apostle Paul wondered if he would stay much longer.
For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you. And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith, Philippians 1:21-25
Now I am sometimes (painfully) aware that I’ll be seventy-seven years old in a few days, yet I don’t think my condition came from aging. I began to feel this way when I first began to be transformed some fifty-five years ago after my second birth. It’s true at that time, a lot changed in my actions but it took much longer than I had dreamed to renew my un-renewed mind. I do thank God that currently I don’t even remember why I ever desired the things I did.
Things like … what people think of me, holidays, cultural trends, patriotism, music, clothes, sports, concerns over social ills or pleasures, wars, rumors of wars, political standing, concerns for the future, or regrets of the past … no longer feel a part of me. It’s progressively like they no longer even pertain to me.
Many of the saints who went before me, I consider to be my mentors. Men and women like T. Austin Sparks, A. W. Tozer, and Amy Carmichael just to name a few. At the top of the list would be a man from China … Watchman Nee. For me, he was the most spiritual man of his time. I have read and studied every one of his books. If anyone wanted to know about him and his life, read the book ‘Against the Tide’ by Angus Kinnear. If I could give you an example of his utter detachment from the ‘things’ of this world it would be this.
When the Japanese began their invasion of the world and inevitably his homeland he was asked … “what do you think of the war?” His response was … “What war?” This response was not due to his lack of being aware of current world affairs, but rather from the reality of him being a citizen of heaven.
For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Php. 3:20
When asked why his disciples weren’t behaving like ‘normal’ men act He replied:
Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” John 18:36
If Jesus’s affiliations were not of this earth … why is ours? He brought an entirely new way to think and thus react. New culture, traditions, loyalties, affiliations, concerns. He … changed … everything.
I am tired of feeling crazy for following the biblical Jesus. I want to think like He thought, feel like he felt, and react like He reacted. In short … I want to be just like Him.
When I was baptized all my ‘former stuff’ stayed under the water and what emerged from that water was a strange new me with all new attachments. Yes, all the new stuff was in me the second I emerged from the water. Yet, after fifty-five years I am still laboring to work out of me those things He put in. To this day I continue the effort.
… as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, …Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 2 Peter1:3, Php.2:12
I and all others who have believed and been baptized became a new and transformed kind of mankind, a new kind of priest (servant of God), and a new species of humans as stated here …
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2: 9
I have turned my eyes upon Jesus and have looked fully in His wonderful face. As a result … the concerns of this present world are growing increasingly hard to see or even relate to because of the surpassing radiance of His glory (His power, wisdom, love) and grace (the empowerment to obey Him). I invite everyone who reads this to … start turning your eyes upon Jesus.
As to how do we look in His face … I leave you with a note from one of my favorite teachers hoping it will help you begin the process.
Looking at God
A. W. Tozer
Among Christians of all ages and of varying shades of doctrinal emphasis there has been fairly full agreement on one thing: They all believed that it was important that the Christian with serious spiritual aspirations should learn to meditate long and often on God.
Let a Christian insist upon rising above the poor average of current religious experience and he will soon come up against the need to know God Himself as the ultimate goal of all Christian doctrine.
Let him seek to explore the sacred wonders of the Triune Godhead and he will discover that sustained and intelligently directed meditation on the Person of God is imperative.
To know God well he must think on Him unceasingly. Nothing that man has discovered about himself or God has revealed any shortcut to pure spirituality.
It is still free, but tremendously costly. Of course, this presupposes at least a fair amount of sound theological knowledge.
To seek God apart from His own self-disclosure in the inspired Scriptures is not only futile but dangerous. There must be also a knowledge of and complete trust in Jesus Christ as LORD and Redeemer.
Christ is not one of many ways to approach God, nor is He the best of several ways; He is the only way.
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me? (John 14:6). To believe otherwise is to be something less than a Christian.
Have a great new year!
David Noah Taylor