Hebrews 12 exhorts us to fix our eyes on Jesus. Here are five ways I try to do that:
1. In Scripture
Sometimes I read the Gospels. Sometimes I don't. But everywhere you read, it all points to Jesus. When reading Scripture, if you want to (as Hebrews 12 encourages) "fix your eyes on Jesus," become adept at finding him wherever you read.
Recently, when reading Genesis 3, I noticed Jesus in a fresh way. Many of us have heard the oft-cited proto-euangelion: "He will crush your head and you will bruise his heel."
But I saw Jesus in there in another way. Something is taken off of a tree and death begins. That's Genesis. Something, or better yet, Someone is put back on a tree and life begins. That's Jesus. One act of disobedience brings death. A life of obedience, culminating on that day on the cross, brings life.
All Scripture connects to Jesus. Find the connection and you'll be on your way, fixing your eyes.
2. In Prayer
The practice of Ignatian prayer I learned at Jesuit has been invaluable to me as I seek to fix my eyes on Jesus. St. Ignatius urged members of his order to pray with their imaginations, to visualize Jesus on the cross, suffering for the joy set before him.
I usually pray to the Father, addressing my prayers to the first person of the Trinity. But sometimes, when our vision of Jesus gets cloudy, we are helped if we pray and talk to him directly. Address him. Thank him. Seek his help.
3. In Service
How does Jesus connect with our service? Say you're helping someone who's sick. Where is Jesus in that? Richard Foster is so helpful here. In his chapter on prayer in his book on the spiritual disciplines, he talks about how he prays fot the sick. He places a hand on their arm or their head and visualizes Jesus placing a hand on top of his. In this way, it's not just Foster who prays, but it's as if Jesus joins in.
That's the way it is with all our service. Mowing a lawn? Picture Jesus there with you. Visiting someone in jail? Remind yourself that Jesus is there with you. Take the theological realities you believe (omnipresence for example) and draw them up into your imagination.
Imagining something isn't the same as pretending that something that's made-up is actually real. Sometimes, the act of imagining is really drawing into our mind's eye that which remains beyond our sight.
4. In Community
A great help in fixing our eyes on Jesus is the opportunity we have to talk about him in our fellowships. That's one of the reasons I loved Small Group so much. These people talked to me about Jesus and encouraged me to speak.
As Jesus is important to us, he will come up in our conversations. Don't worry about seeming annoyingly spiritual. It's hard to talk about Jesus and be self-righteous. The self-righteous people will talk about all sorts of other things, but not Jesus. Jesus reminds us of our own brokenness, our neediness. He puts us in our place, a place we did not earn, but a great place nonetheless.
So often we hold back in talking about Jesus with our Christian friends. We treat him like an idea and an elementary one at that. Part of the reason evangelism is so difficult for us is because we only talk about Jesus with people who don't know him. Our communities are filled with people who love Jesus. It should be easy for us to talk about him.
5. In Our Consumption of Bacon
This is such a significant idea. Jesus was constantly eating, with his disciples, with his friends, with sinners, with self-righteous hosts. Food played a huge part in his ministry.
And not just any food. Jesus freed us to eat bacon (non-kosher). Jim Gaffigan rightly observed that bacon is the food that applauds for itself while it is cooking. In our freedoms, let us not forget the One who set us free.
And more than that, Jesus wanted to be remembered through his meal. Bread and wine. "This, do in rememberance of me" he said. Let's not ignore his own recommendation.
How do you fix your eyes on Jesus?