The Christian’s Calling (3)
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. Colossians 3.1, 2
We cannot follow what we do not know
Henry James’ short story, “The Beast in the Jungle,” is about a young man who feels certain life holds something special for him. Something exciting, maybe even a little dangerous, but something that will give complete meaning and purpose to his life. He’s not sure what that something is, and he can’t describe it even to himself; but he insists it’s like a beast in the jungle: When it springs out of the forest before him, he’ll recognize it and wrestle it into submission. Then his life will be full and complete.
As it turns out, the young man failed to recognize what would have been for him the supreme happiness of his life. He never really understood what he needed, or what he should be seeking. And when he finally did realize that which would have fulfilled all his desire and given him his greatest happiness, it was too late. At the end of the story, he is reduced to bitter tears. Because he didn’t really know what he was seeking, he was not able to recognize it when it stood right in front of him.
For many of us who believe, Jesus Christ is like that uncertain, special something. We say that Jesus is the most important thing in our lives, the One Who makes us happiest and most completely fulfilled. We want to be guilt-free, worry-free, happy, and at peace. That’s what Jesus is. But because we’re seeking something we associate with Jesus, rather than Jesus Himself, we don’t know Him as we should, and we don’t understand what He’s about, or what it means to be His disciple. Our discipleship is restricted to whatever makes us feel OK at any moment. The true joy and fulfillment Jesus promises (Jn. 10.10) consistently eludes us, leaving us wondering why our Christian lives aren’t more joyful, powerful, fruitful, and fulfilling.
Jesus intends for us to seek Him. Through the prophet Jeremiah, He promised that we will find Him, and thus truly know Him, when we seek Him with all our heart (Jer. 29.13). Paul instructs us to seek Jesus where He is now, exalted in glory, ruling the vast creation, advancing His Kingdom, putting His enemies under His feet, and restoring the reconciled world to His Father and ours.
Unless we are seeking Jesus like this, our discipleship will be continuously lacking, and we’ll be of little use in helping others grow as disciples.
We cannot follow what we do not know. And we cannot encourage other followers of Jesus if we are not seeking Him ourselves. If we do not know Jesus, if our vision and understanding of Him are vague or merely general, following Him, in any sense, will be an act of self-deception.
As disciples, we say that we know Jesus. To know Jesus Christ is to have eternal life (Jn. 17.3). To know Jesus is to be conveyed into the Kingdom and glory of God and to have embarked on a life above the merely mundane plane of existence – life “under the heavens,” as Solomon explained it, rather than merely “under the sun.” To know Jesus is to recognize and delight in Him. To know Jesus we must consider Him carefully and well. Otherwise, we will not stay the course of our discipleship – following Jesus, even if necessary, to death.
The writer of Hebrews understood this. Twice in his epistle he instructed us to “consider Jesus.” We must consider Jesus – seek Him with all our heart – if we have any hope of growing as disciples and persevering in our calling (Heb. 3.1). And we must consider Jesus if we are to run our race as fully and swiftly as possible (Heb. 12.3). Following Jesus, it seems, means considering Him carefully.
The writer uses two different words which we translate by the term, consider. The first, in Hebrews 3.1, seems to have an aesthetic sense to it, implying wonder, admiration, mystery, and awe. To seek Jesus in this way is to wonder at His beauty, majesty, mystery, and power, and to delight in meditating on Him and lingering in His presence. The Scriptures provide many insights to the majesty and glory of Jesus in His exaltation. Let it be our determination to set this vision of the Lord always before us (Ps. 16.8).
The second use of consider, in Hebrews 12.3, encourages a more analytical, logical, and even theological consideration of Jesus Christ. We must study Jesus, think about all the implications of His life, death, and resurrection, and apply our minds to taking every thought captive for obedience to Him (2 Cor. 10.3-5). We must see Him as Lord and King as well as Savior and Friend. We must ponder what Paul means when he writes that God intends to fill the world with Jesus through His Church (Eph. 1.15-22; 4.8-10).
In short, to seek Jesus we must focus on Him in all His spiritual and moral excellence, as well as in all His glory and work. And there is no better way to do this than to follow Paul’s advice and set our minds on Christ, exalted at the right hand of God.
Glorious in His exaltation
Jesus Christ is exalted in glory, reigning at the right hand of God in a glorified body, carrying on the work He began on earth of destroying the works of the devil and advancing the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit of God (Rom. 14.17, 18). Many passages of Scripture give us glimpses of Jesus exalted – in the Psalms and prophets, in Revelation, even in the epistles of Paul, Peter, and John. It can be difficult to bring all these glimpses together into one cogent and beautiful portrait of Jesus exalted in glory, but this is precisely what Paul intends for us to do. He even prayed for us – when he prayed for the church in Ephesus – that the eyes of our hearts may be opened and the Spirit of God might illumine our minds to the beauty and wonder and majesty and greatness, and to the finished work and glory of our exalted Savior and King (Eph. 1.15-23).
This is the work of prayer, meditation, and lively conversation with other disciples. Our hearts will be wondrously warmed, and our love for Jesus will increase dramatically, as we seek the Lord with all our heart, to know, love, and serve Him better day by day.
To seek Jesus like this is to encounter jaw-dropping beauty, and to have our minds filled with the scope, majesty, and power of His work of redemption and restoration. If we seek Him, we will find Him, when we seek Him with all our heart. Then we will want to be like Jesus, to shed everything that makes us ashamed or reluctant to be in His Presence, and to join in His work with all our soul and strength, as true disciples and eager disciple-makers.
When we see Jesus like this, considering Him carefully and well, then we will be ready to follow Him, wherever He leads.
1. How would you describe your approach to seeking Jesus at this time?
2. Explain the two uses of consider outlined in this article. Is this part of your practice of seeking Jesus?
3. What’s one thing you could do to begin seeking Jesus more consistently every day?
Next steps – Transformation: How might you improve this discipline of “considering Jesus” in your spiritual life? What can you begin to do today?
T. M. Moore
Disciples of the King
Jesus is our King, and we are His servants. Our book, The Kingdom Turn, can help you establish a Kingdom framework for following Jesus. Order your free copy by clicking here. While you’re at the bookstore, pick up a free copy of two other books that can help you in seeking Jesus. What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? brings together the teaching of Scripture concerning the reign of King Jesus (click here). And To Know Him walks you through the work of seeking Jesus as the prize of your upward calling (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.