When I became a Christian, it wasn’t because I’d been convinced by good arguments; although a faith that makes sense was and is important to me. It was because I met a group of people whose main priority in life was to follow Jesus. Sitting around a kitchen table with them, listening to them talk about God as if they knew him, rather than knew about him was what turned my gaze towards Jesus. It was their focus on Jesus that caught my attention.
God has always sought relationship with people. In Genesis 12 God emphasises his commitment to relationship when he says to Abram,:
“I will make you into a great nation,
And I will bless you
I will make your name great
And you will be a blessing…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”
Throughout the story of God’s people, things go well when they look to God first, when their focus is on him. When they don’t, well, you know the stories.
Too often the blessing they received as the people of God became their focus, which skewed their perspective and led to them seeing other nations as inferior, rather than people groups that God wanted to bless through them.
God’s heart is for relationship with all people groups, it always has been. He chose to bless the people he called to himself, Abraham and his descendents out of his love for them and in order that they would become a blessing to all nations. This has always been his intention. Relationship with him first which brings blessing and then that blessing overflowing to bless others. This is the order of things in God’s plan.
Whenever this order is rearranged, things don’t go well. If the focus becomes the blessing then eventually the people of God cease being a blessing to others. If the focus is relationship with God first, then the blessing comes and the people of God become a blessing to others.
“Seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you” Matthew 6:33
This is why Jesus got so frustrated with the religious rulers. They weren’t leading people into relationship with God, instead they were putting heavy burdens on them. They’d lost perspective on who they were and what they were called to be….. a blessing.
For you and me, it is always about the relationship with God first, never primarily about the benefits of that relationship. The truth is, when we focus on what we want from our relationship with God, we end up with something much less than if we focus on him first.
In our new sermon series we are looking at what it means to be a people of God who live as family. I love being a part of the family of God. I meet people who I would never otherwise meet and I get to journey with them, joining in with God as he brings life and hope and salvation to all people. It constantly amazes and humbles me that he chooses you and me, his body here on earth, to partner with; to be a blessing to others.
For you and me to be the healthy body of Christ, we need to ask ourselves a very important question.
What is our focus?
Just as has been true for the people of God throughout time, it is always tempting to allow our focus to be what we can get from the relationship with God rather than God himself.
I need you to be someone whose gaze is on Jesus first. You need me to do the same. If you and I pursue Jesus with all our hearts then we’ll be and will increasingly become the family God wants us to be; his people, blessed to be a blessing. It goes deeper than just our feelings; it’s a longing from the depths of our being (Psalm 130). There will be some days when ‘we just don’t feel it’, but that’s ok, it’s about grace and it’s about encouraging each other, spurring each other on.
What is God saying to you in this? How are you prioritising relationship with him with the choices you make?
Start by reminding yourself of his love for you; remember that turning to him is always a response to his love for us first, it’s never a duty.
Being amongst people whose focus is on Jesus is what attracted me to faith and it continues to encourage me today to turn my gaze to him.
As we move into our One Another series on ‘Living together as family’, let’s remember this simple truth; people who pursue Jesus become people who bring blessing others. It’s a wonderful calling to have and a great adventure for us to go on as a people together!
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart…..and let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10
Written by Mike Rutter
Each blog is written by our Sunday speaker as a follow up to their talk.