Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"
Words & Music: Helen H. Lemmel (1922)
I’ve really been struggling with the whole “in and not of” concept recently. And if you need a refresher on that, let’s take a quick look at some source material found in Romans 12:1-2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For more inspiration, you could also look to John 15:18-19:
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.
Perhaps this “in and not of” struggle I feel is due to age. Or perhaps it becomes more apparent to me the closer I am in my walk with the Lord. I have seasons (years, even) when I feel far away from the Father and find myself more focused on the things of earth (possessions, entertainment, fame, fortune, relationships . . . you name it!). In fact, last year was one of those seasons, but this year I have been experiencing a time when I am once again really hungering and thirsting for anything to do with God’s Word.
As the lyrics in the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” suggest, the things of this earth have “grown strangely dim” to me in the past few months as I’ve found myself fully engaged in my study of the Old Testament. I’ve just finished reading the book of Judges, and I couldn’t help but compare myself to the Israelites and their very frustrating ongoing cycle: rebellion, consequences, repentance and then restoration.
Time and again the Israelites were warned about the Canaanites (among other bad influences) and directed to destroy anything to do with their false worship. But the Israelites were lax, they became lukewarm and the cancer of paganism spread and kept leading them to compromise, disobedience and spiritual death.
Each day as I read through Judges, I asked the Lord why he had included these stories in his Word and what I was supposed to learn from them. And each day as I applied what I was reading to my own life (and marveled at how relevant these stories still are), my eyes were opened to the cancer in my own life—and the many ways I am compromising, disobeying and dying instead of thriving in my spiritual growth.
If anything was the most sobering for me while reading, it was the last verse in the entire book: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit” (Judges 21:25).
That’s not just Old Testament times, is it? That’s today, when everyone is worshipping anything and everything but God. And the result is rampant immorality, perversion, brutality, injustice and bold abandonment of the Truth found in God’s Word.
But this verse also points to the hope of a wake-up call—revival was needed back then in Israel as sure as it is needed today in our world, starting with the body of Christ. Yes, even we believers in the twenty-first century have all turned our own ways, as there is so much fracturing and splintering going on within the Church. But God is big enough to unify us and restore us if we will turn our eyes to him. Let’s purpose today to do that. And may spiritual revival start with you and me.
Intersecting Faith & Life:
Where or on what are your eyes turned today? Is it time to cut out what is a “cancer” in your life or is prohibiting you from growing closer to the Father? Think about how you spend your money, what you watch, who you hang out with or what you’re passionate about today. Do they point you toward or away from your heavenly Father? If you’re ready, God will show you just what to do.