Day 21: January 21, 2013

Today's Reading(s)

Luke 2:41-50 Read Online


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Today's Reflection

Key Verse(s)

“Why were you searching for Me?” He asked them. “Didn’t you know that I had to be in My Father’s house?”

—Luke 2:49 (HCSB)

A Godly Focus
by Paul Wilkinson, Member of Brentwood Baptist Campus

The oldest manuscripts literally translate the above verse as, "Did you not know that I had to be into the things of My Father?"

How often we stray from the one place and the One Being who will fulfill us completely and love us unconditionally? St. Augustine wrote that our hearts are restless until they "find their rest in thee, oh Lord." May we perpetually and sincerely echo those words, never ceasing in our devotion to our Lord Jesus.

A beautiful contrast exists between Jesus' parents and Jesus. They were surely great parents, otherwise they wouldn't have been chosen for the Son! But like most of us, they react to the immediacy of life, focusing upon the tangible rather than the significantly real.

In spite of our nearsighted spiritual vision, God constantly beckons to us to embrace the gift of life He gave us, to focus on the eternal and glorify His name.

Mary cried out, like any good mother would concerning a lost child, "Son, why have You treated us this way?" She lamented that they’d been looking for Him. Like the good parents, God searches for us (Matthew 18:12). He’s never far from any of us (Acts 17:27) and He wants to be known. Jesus knows the Father most intimately, and through His work, we may be adopted children as well.

Such a mentality was foreign to me as a youth, though not for a lack of effort on the part of my church and parents. Staying up-to-date with the latest cultural trends and not looking like a loser seemed much more important than the way-out-there eternal realm of God.

As many have experienced before me and many will experience after me, I, unfortunately, had to reach a point of utter despair and misery before I was willing to accept the grace of God—even though He was calling me to trust Him long before my downward spiral.

Søren Kierkegaard taught that the point of despair must be reached by individuals still "in the world" before they will recognize their need of a Savior. The boy Jesus understood that He must remain in the will of the Father to achieve the full potential of His existence.

From that moment as a child through His desperate cry of “Not My will but Yours” in the Garden of Gethsemene, Jesus remained faithful to the will of God. We too must pray for the Holy Spirit to fill us with that sort of passion and dedication so that we remain focused on eternal things.

So what does it mean to be focused on eternal things? First, it doesn’t mean we only look ahead to the next life completely oblivious to the needs of those here and now. Quite to the contrary, we must exhibit even more compassion and service to the lost because of eternal implications.

The point is that we don’t serve because people deserve it, nor do we serve because we are good people. Rather we serve because God first served us through the Incarnation of Jesus. Thus, what we do now has eternal consequences.

It isn’t enough to feed someone because the church must be more than a spiritual United Way. We must feed people in the name of Jesus. Be explicit, so there will never be any doubt that you exhibit love because God loved you and He loves the one in need.

Second, it means that every action in our lives has significance. God doesn’t create us and sustain us to simply be. Once we claim the name Christian, our actions are a direct reflection of Jesus. We shouldn’t live afraid of messing things up, as if we can actually thwart God’s plans. As Paul teaches, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Finally, we must enjoy life. We’re redeemed and rest in the hope of Jesus’ resurrection. Of all people, we should count ourselves the most blessed. Let the world know what they are missing out by not being into the things of the Father. Those outside of the Christian community should be jealous to get in, similar to Paul’s teaching concerning the Jews in Romans 11:11.

Live with joy, or to paraphrase what John Piper would say: the Lord is most glorified when you find the most pleasure in Him. Live confidently redeemed!

Reflection Questions

  1. What will it mean for me to be about the things of my Father?
  2. What are the means by which we develop a godly focus?
  3. What specific actions in my daily life—work, home, or other—can be employed so that my focus remains on eternal things?

About the Author

Paul Wilkinson

Since March 2012, Paul has been a member of Brentwood Baptist. He’s currently enrolled as a PhD student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, majoring in Philosophy of Religion and minoring in Ethics, and serves as an intern with the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. Ultimately, he’d like to minister within the local church, as well as teach and write on the collegiate level.

Paul is married to Shelly. In their free time, they enjoy spending time with their two dogs, watching movies, cooking, and traveling.