The focus of faith

March 22, 2020

Scripture Readings

Psalm 36 first describes the focus of an evil man, listing what he sees and doesn’t see. He doesn’t see God, doesn’t stand in awe of him, and is rather in awe of himself. He doesn’t see his own sin and cannot discern wrong generally.

David, however, the servant of the Lord, holds before his eyes God’s priceless, unfailing love and faithfulness. He rejoices in God’s righteousness, justice and preservation under the shadow of his wings. There he finds delight, life and light! (John 10:10). David prays for this to continue and for evildoers not to hurt him, realizing too, that they would have a bitter end.

Surely David remembered the eyes of faith of Caleb and Joshua in Numbers 13-14. Although the majority of the Israelites had set their sights on hard facts, disregarding God, they didn’t consider how in the recent past God had worked a mighty redemption and agreed with their enemies (they were “grasshoppers” and not the people of God!) This resulted in a bitter end, irreversible because of a false repentance (v. 40) which was without awe of God.

In spite of this long history contrasting people of faith and of sight, those in the synagogue in Nazareth didn’t see God when he came in Christ. They only saw “Joseph’s son” (v.22). Undiscerning, Jesus only made them furious (v. 28), so they tried to kill him. However, Christ graciously came to bring “recovery of sight to the blind” (v. 18), before his Second Coming on the day of vengeance (Is. 61:2b). The “hard words” (v. 24-27) are actually gracious words (v. 22), reinforced by visible deliverance from evil (v. 35-36).

What a stark contrast in focus today: self or God. This turns out to be a moral focus of either dreadful evil or spectacular good. Our challenges and opportunities in life are different in intensity and kind, but the trajectory of a self-focus ultimately leads to evil, emptiness, destruction and death. A focus on God, however, leads to priceless good and a lavish abundance of incredible love, light and life. Where are our crossroads today?

Elizabeth Matthias

Foothills International Worker in Germany