The Jesus Focus
fo·cus: a central point, as of attraction, attention, or activity.
The bottom line: at street level, big kingdom living is Jesus-focused living.
Sin has given all of us a tendency to live in a way that is dictated by little more than earthbound treasures and anxiety-bound needs. But grace calls us to live in a new and better way, a way that is focused on the person, the work, and the will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace punctures our self-contained little kingdoms and places us in the spaciousness of God’s big kingdom. The big kingdom is the big kingdom because it has Jesus as the focus, Jesus at the center. When Jesus is no longer the focus and no longer at the center, the big kingdom splinters into a million little solitary kingdoms under the ruler-ship of self. Big kingdom living is Jesus-focused living. But what exactly does this mean?
Big kingdom living is living with the purpose, character, call, grace, and glory of the Lord Jesus Christ as the central motivation and hope for everything you think, desire, do, and say. It is by living this way that you will once again experience the transcendence for which you were created and be freed from your bondage to you. And living this way will result in a life of meaning and purpose, where you really do make a difference wherever God places you.
Jesus-Focused Living: A Model
There is a passage in the Old Testament that defines big kingdom, Christ-centered living more clearly than almost any other.
And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set his affection on your forefathers and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations, as it is today. Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt. Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name. He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Your forefathers who went down into Egypt were seventy in all, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in the sky. (Deuteronomy 10:12—22)
The Big Question: What does God ask of you?
Fear. What is this “fear of the Lord” about anyway? . . . Fear of the Lord means that I carry around with me such a deep awareness, awe, and reverence for the power, holiness, wisdom, and grace of God that I would not think of doing anything other than living for his glory. Fearing the Lord means that this worshipful awe is the single and unchallenged motivator of everything I think, desire, say, and do. What does it mean to live a Christ-centered existence? It means that the fear of the Lord, more than fear of anything else, sets the agenda for our actions, reactions, and responses.
Act. Big kingdom, Christ-centered living is not just about an attitude of heart, but about a way of living as well. Living a God-centered life has not been left in a cloud of mystery for us. God has given us his Word as a functional guide for our everyday living.
Love. If I love God more than anything else, I will be pulled way beyond the borders of my own wants and needs to the spaciousness of God’s kingdom, where redemption and restoration of all things is the order of the day, every day. Big kingdom and little kingdom living are all about who or what owns your love. When you are jealous of a fellow worker,;
The Thing to Remember
In this model of Christ-centered living, the big question (What does God ask of me?) is followed by an important reminder: Big kingdom living is always propelled by remembering the Lord. Shockingly, he is the one thing that we sinners all tend to forget. Our thoughts can be so dominated by the necessary tasks of the day, by the difficulties we face, or by the people around us, that we lose our consciousness of the Lord of Glory who has drawn us into his transcendent purposes for the universe. Or our day can be kidnapped by anxious cravings and all the “what ifs” that worry is able to generate. Big kingdom living really does start with remembering the King.
The final question: what is the focus of your life’s energies and intentions?
Come Join Us in our Quest for More
Adapted from A Quest For More. Excerpt may not be reproduced without the express written permission of New Growth Press. To purchase this and other resources, please visit www.newgrowthpress.com.
© 2008 by Paul David Tripp. Used by permission of New Growth Press. All rights reserved.