Sunday School Lessons

How to Get Things Into Focus

Once I reached a certain age (which, I’m afraid, was a number of years ago), I started to have a lot of difficulty reading things up close.  Even today, with strong progressive lenses in my glasses, I find myself struggling to see things that are in small print.  It’s strange, having gotten used to seeing things pretty clearly in the past (either with my glasses, or up-close), I sometimes just can’t persuade my eyeballs to bring certain things into focus (with or without the glasses).

Occasionally, though, when I get a new prescription for my lenses, there’s a period when things are super-sharp (at least, for certain distances), and the world seems clearer for a while.  Then, my glasses get dirty and scratched, while my eyes deteriorate further, and I’m back to blurry again.


Having set some context in the previous article, I think that Hebrews 3:1 still has more to offer in our study.  Here it is, again:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.
Hebrews 3:1 NIV

https://hebrews.bible/hebrews-3-1

If we are regular readers of the Bible (and I hope you are, although it’s not too late to start that habit if you aren’t), we may already be comfortable agreeing that we should fix our thoughts on Jesus.  After all, the Bible includes a similar command elsewhere (see Hebrews 12:1-3), and the previous article described some reasons why this is a good idea.  However, this isn’t necessarily a phrase that we use a lot, so we might be wondering how to actually “fix our thoughts” on Jesus.

We might call one element of this (i.e., fixing our thoughts on Jesus), “meditation”.  However, keeping our attention on Jesus isn’t just sitting on a yoga mat repeating His name over and over again, like a mantra.  This verse – and its context – give us specific attributes of Jesus’ nature, His character, and His accomplishments that we can celebrate and concentrate upon.  He is all of these good things that Hebrews defines, and much more, so spending some of our time remembering those attributes of Jesus is a good start.

While some faiths consider productive meditation to be emptying one’s mind of everything, meditation for those who read the Bible looks more like filling our minds with good things: God’s word, God’s nature, God’s provision, etc.  (Search your favorite Bible translation – like this link – for words like “meditate” and “meditation” to see how that term is used, for more context.)

Another way to think about this is a matter of focus.  There are a lot of other things that we’re tempted to focus on these days, from fads and politics, to our own health and well-being.  We can appreciate how marketers and others try to get us to focus on their product, their issues, or their own selves.  (To be fair, God may call us to action or service in many different areas, including these, but we cannot simply stare at problems or consequences all of the time, especially when we are commanded to fix our thoughts on Jesus.)

Even as we resist the urge to follow someone who is selfishly trying to get us to give them money, attention, service, or time, we might be able to use those examples to help us think about what it means to fix our thoughts on Jesus.  Many things that you read are meant to persuade you to do something (even if it’s just staying on a web site so that they can sell more ads), by getting you to concentrate on something specific.  In a good way, though, by concentrating on Jesus Christ and His teachings, we are inspired to practice positive habits: not spending money on useless stuff or making money for advertisers, but rather investing our time and energy into the Kingdom of God.

If this all seems like a lot to fix our thoughts on, though, I encourage you to start simple.  If you struggle to fix your thoughts on Jesus, I propose that spending extra time this week thinking about just two things that describe Him: Jesus is Savior, and Jesus is Lord.

Since Jesus is Savior (and personally, I hope that Jesus is your Savior), this means that you can be free: free from having to follow a bunch of rules to get into Heaven, free from having to try and be better than someone else, free from living in the guilt of past sins, and free from worrying about your eternal destination.  This freedom not only takes a crushing burden off of our shoulders, but it also frees us up to be grateful and to give thanks to Jesus frequently for what He has done for us.

Since Jesus is Lord (and personally, I hope that Jesus is your Lord), this means that He is in charge of our lives.  By His death, He purchased our lives back from the wages of sin (see Romans 6:19-23), and even though He deserves our obedience because He is God, He deserves it twice (we might say) after buying us back from the death sentence that we brought upon ourselves by sinning.  When we focus on this aspect of Jesus, we should be inspired to ask Him what He wants us to do next, with an eagerness to hear His answer so that we can jump into action.

So, if you struggle to fix your thoughts on Jesus this week, try spending time thinking about just these two aspects of Jesus’ role in God the Father’s plan.  Talk with God in prayer about what these truths mean in your life, and what you should do about it (or just ponder that yourself while inviting God to offer His input).  And, in the background, maybe play some good recordings – whether classic or modern – of the old hymn, “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”.


From Sunday School lesson prepared for September 5, 2021

References:

  • The Lookout, September 12, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
  • Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  • The College Press Commentary, Hebrews, by Jim Girdwood and Peter Verkruyse.  College Press Publishing Company, © 1997.

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