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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Living with more than cast-offs

I have been asked if I was really "serious" about something on occasion - usually because I am a little bit of a joker and like to have a little bit of fun with life.  So when someone asks me if I am serious about a matter, they are really trying to figure out if I am trifling around with them.  When I am serious about a matter, you usually can tell it, though.  My focus changes from that of making light about a matter to being quite concentrated on the matter at hand producing whatever outcome we desire to see.  It is this change in focus that clues another into the "seriousness" of the matter and the desire to have my actions (and theirs) align with the desired outcome.  The same is true in our walk with Jesus - we can "trifle" around a little with it, or we can be "serious" about our focus.  Either way, our focus will be determined by the way we are treating this pursuit - if seriously, then the outcome will surely differ than if we are only half-hearted!

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you’ll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ. (Colossians 3:1-4 MSG)

If we are serious about living as though we have been resurrected into new life with Christ, our actions should reveal it.  How do we reflect this "seriousness"? It is in the way we "pursue" things over which Christ presides.  In our lives, Christ is invited to preside over our minds, hearts, and will.  In turn, we are called to pursue the things of righteousness which he produces within.  We get consumed with the things right in our immediate focus and forget there is a bigger picture we are to behold.  Whenever this happens, our perspective becomes pretty limited and the actions produced by limited focus will always fall short of the actions produced when you can apprehend the bigger picture.

As a kid, I had a tendency to look down as I walked.  I would scour the ground before me for some "secret find".  It may have been a cast away penny, or perhaps a recently discarded soda bottle for which I could claim the deposit money at the local grocer.  In essence, my focus was pretty limited because I did not see things around me, just the things at my feet.  I did find an occasional "good find", like the time I came across a twenty dollar bill, but in general the stuff I "claimed" in my constant quest to look downward was simply just "cast away" stuff.  Now, this may not seem like much of a revelation to you, but when we think about either living with what others have discarded or discovering something totally afresh and new, it does make a difference!

As I have grown, I have developed a focus far different than when I was a kid. In fact, people often comment to me "how did you see that" when I acknowledge I saw a ceiling tile askew, a wallboard broken through, or a new picture added to the walls as I traverse the hallways of our hospital.  I look up, around, and down - I have changed my perspective.  My "intake" of things around me changed when I changed my perspective.  The same is true in our spiritual walk - when we change our perspective of focus, our intake changes. We can go through life so "inwardly" focused, tightly holding our focus on how things will immediately affect us, or what is right in front of us, that we miss out on the things God has prepared for us just up ahead.   

Whenever our focus is too limited, we find ourselves losing momentum.  When all we can see is the immediacy of a matter, we don't hold out for the end.  We want it to be over as quickly as possible - to see the outcome sometimes long before it was ready to be produced.  The things God presides over in our lives are not usually produced with immediacy - they are cultivated.  It is like a good steak - you allow it to sear a little on the grill, but just because the outside looks like it is done doesn't mean the inside is ready for the eating!  We could give into the immediate impression of what we see, but we would be eating close to raw meat!  

Just like the steak on the grill, what is taking place on the inside matters.  We might think we are ready to move onto the next step in our lives, but if we need more time to have the inside affected as totally as the outside has been, we won't be happy if we just settle or our limited perspective of the outside.  God is at work on the inside.  He is presiding over our hearts to bring balance to our emotions and commitment to our purpose.  He is presiding over our minds to give integrity to our thoughts and see actions produced which are consistent and reliable.  He is presiding over our will to reduce the variability of outcomes which are produced through either the stubbornness of our own wants and wishes or the disillusionment of pursuits way ahead of their time.

If we want to live as Christ desires, we need to determine if we are serious about our perspective.  Perspective is beyond the immediate - it takes in the whole thing and helps us to form a "life picture" which differs a great deal from what we see when all we are considering is what life has laid at our feet.  Just sayin!