Some of you have truly been brought by God to believe in Jesus. Yet you have no abiding peace, and very little growth in holiness. Why is this? It is because your eye is fixed anywhere but on Christ. You are so busy looking at books, or looking at men, or looking at the world, that you have no time, no heart, for looking at Christ. No wonder you have little peace and joy in believing. No wonder you live so inconsistent and unholy a life. Change your plan. Consider the greatness and glory of Christ, who has undertaken all in the stead of sinners, and you would find it quite impossible to walk in darkness, or to walk in sin. Oh, what low, despicable thoughts you have of the glorious Immanuel! Lift your eyes from your own bosom, downcast believer - look upon Jesus. It is good to consider your ways, but it is far better to consider Jesus. Oh, believer, consider Jesus. Meditate on these things. Look and look again, until your peace flows like a river.
I'm always so torn when I read thoughts like these. On one level, they cut straight to my heart and make so much sense to me. But on another, more practical level, they seem so distant and unobtainable. For instance, how do I actually work this out in my life? How can I take hold of this peace and joy that I know exists? I mean, I know I experience this peace and joy at times, but generally speaking, I have this sense that it is missing from my life -- is this the Spirit speaking truth into my heart, or am I just being too hard on myself and feeding the lies of Satan? How do we measure this? How should we?
I don't know the answer, but I'm reminded of a story that is only told in John's narrative of the gospel. It occurs very late in Jesus' ministry on earth. He appears to his disciples for the third time after being raised from the dead, provides them with a large catch of fish and then shares a meal with them.
After the meal, Peter and Jesus share a moment together, alone. Jesus asks him, three times, "Do you love me?" After the third time, we are told that Peter is hurt, and we see that reflected in his answer: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!" At this, Jesus responds, for the third time, "Feed my sheep" and then adds that Peter's life used to be his own; but now his life belongs to Jesus (and that Peter will die to glorify God).
And just as Jesus so instructs, John comes up behind them. Peter catches a glimpse of him and asks, "Lord, what about him?" To which Jesus replies, "[His life] is not your business. You follow me" (emphasis added).
How quickly we lose sight of our Saviour.
How easily we turn to books and music and movies and magazines and various online portals (like this blog) for answers to satisfy the cravings of our souls.
How earnestly we seek to validate our own worth by comparing our actions to those of another.
All to which Jesus simply(?) replies, "You follow me."