Rev. Callum Macleod - Shawbost Free Church
We are not surprised that the life of faith presented in the Word of God has Jesus Christ at its centre. In the highest sense, the Christian life is all about Jesus – all about what He did, why He did it, and what He wants us to do for Him now. What is it that should inspire us as we live the Christian life?’
In many ways, faith is the defining characteristic of the Christian life – “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). We are inspired by the Lord Jesus because he is the panorama of our faith - “we run the race with endurance looking to Jesus...” (Hebrews 12:2). The attraction of Jesus arises from the beauty of His person, the perfection of His life, and His loving commitment in the gruesome death on the cross. The eye of faith finds Jesus irresistible and the more we understand about what He has done for us the more we are resolved to do His will and committed to serving Him.
Navigating our path through life as Christians can be quite challenging and finding the right path makes the difference between losing our way and reaching our destination. We are inspired by the Lord Jesus because he is at the centre of the Christian life as the pioneer of our faith – He is “the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). We realise that Jesus was not a superman who doesn’t understand the challenges we face. We discover that not only is He like us because He became one of us, but He is also like us in that He sensed His need of the help of God. He prayed in time of need. He trusted in the Father. He was the model disciple who “learned obedience” (Hebrews 5:8) as he served God. He was the first to enter into resurrection life and glory. He has boldly gone where no one has gone before! And he did so, not simply so that he could occupy it himself, but that we would occupy it with Him. Jesus is the original faith trailblazer – He is the first person to go to Paradise and he shows us it is also possible for us to follow Him there.
The flip side of this is that Jesus understands what the Christian life is like. He was “in every respect tested as we are” (Hebrews 4:16). And so we can always look at his example and be inspired as the model of faith par excellence; and when we face difficulties, we know we can come to Him and “receive mercy and grace to help in time of need” [Hebrews 4:16).
Negotiating our way through the challenges of faith can be equally challenging for us as Christians. Life has the habit of coming up with things that we don’t expect and sometimes throwing a spanner in the works of faith as we follow the Lord Jesus. Suffering is part of the programme! But we are inspired as we live the life of faith also because when we look to Jesus we learn something of the perspective of faith – “who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2). The perspective under which Jesus lived the life of faith is hugely instructive. So often, our faith is controlled and influenced by circumstances and we falter. Jesus was influenced and controlled only by where the Father was and what the Father had promised Him. His outlook was heavenward and the more he went forward in doing the Father’s will the more he was Himself inspired to continue towards the finishing line. And so he inspires us as we follow Him!
A fellow used to pass a massive construction site on his way to work. One day he stopped and asked people what they were doing. One worker answered, “Hauling dirt.” Another replied, “Cutting stones.” Standing up straight, a third man replied cheerfully, “I’m building a cathedral.” The goal was extraordinary, and it was this that motivated what seemed on the surface to be nothing more than dull routine. We need to think like this when it comes to serving the Lord. If we do so, our Christian lives will be transformed, and our joy will be complete.
In the words of A.W. Tozer, ‘When the eyes of the soul looking out to meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth.’