Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Author: Kevin Youngblood
 
Welcome to WestRidge Church of Christ’s new blog, the Daily Disciple! The blog’s name is inspired both by Jesus’ call to discipleship in Luke 9:23 where he directs us to take up our cross daily and follow him and by WestRidge Church of Christ’s commitment to foster a culture of discipleship within our faith community. This blog aims to facilitate this goal by sharing resources, recommending exercises for spiritual formation, and providing content that stimulates contemplation, meditation, and maturation for every disciple at West Ridge. While I will assume responsibility for ensuring the upkeep and consistency of the blog, I intend to invite guest bloggers (especially members from WestRidge but also experts from various fields related to theology, spiritual formation, evangelism, outreach, and spiritual leadership) to contribute content on a regular basis. I pray that the blog will be a blessing to you and serve as an inspiration to follow Jesus more deliberately, more closely, and more joyfully.

Our first blog series corresponds to the new sermon series we launched last Sunday “He Makes All Things New: The Renewal of Hope in the Book of Revelation.” Each week of this series I will post a blog consisting of recommended spiritual exercises designed to facilitate living out the lesson of the previous Sunday’s sermon. Last Sunday, we renewed our vision of Christ by taking a careful look at the vision of the risen Christ John saw when he was exiled on the island of Patmos. We desperately need to keep that vision of Jesus as risen, victorious, and immanently present in his church before our eyes throughout the coming week. We also need to follow his example of faithful witnessing that John highlighted in his vision. Below are some activities that I recommend to facilitate a clearer, more accurate vision of Christ and to grow into his likeness as a faithful witness to the Father.

1. Meditating on a favorite picture of Jesus Christ

Too often, Jesus becomes a mere abstraction to me. I need help in seeing him as a real human being, God in the flesh who stood where I stand, felt what I feel, struggled with similar temptations and doubts as the ones that plague me. When we were children in Sunday school our teachers often used images of Jesus to help us grasp lessons about his life and teachings but for some reasons upon becoming teenagers we are discouraged from using art as a means of connecting with God. Jesus becomes more real to me when I take time to view and meditate on portraits of Christ, icons, or paintings of scenes from his life, ministry, resurrection, or ascension. We need to reclaim art as a vital part of our spiritual lives. God came to us in flesh and blood in Jesus of Nazareth precisely so that he could be seen and related to by human beings whose primary modes of communication and comprehension are material and visual. You may want to try selecting a favorite portrait of Christ, especially one depicting him as risen, ascended, or victorious and meditating upon it. What new thoughts or insights come to mind as you study the painting? What truths about Christ are reinforced in your mind and heart as you think about the way the artist portrayed him? What biblical texts come to mind? How does the painting deepen your understanding of these biblical texts? You might journal about the experience so that you can revisit your thoughts later. Below is a link to a website containing a number of paintings of Christ if you do not know where to begin. If you are an artist and know how to paint or sculpt, you may want to paint or sculpt your own depiction of Christ to serve as an aid in your meditations. If you choose to try this exercise and would be willing to share what the experience was like please leave comment below the blog.
 
 

2. Praying daily for an opportunity to bear witness to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit

I remember an old hymn that we used to sing fairly regularly when I was growing up in church. I have included the lyrics below.
 
Lead me to some soul today
Teach me, Lord, just what to say
Friends of mine are lost in sin
And cannot find their way.
Few there are who seem to care,
And few there are who pray.
Melt my heart and fill my life
Give me one soul today.
 
What would happen if we all committed to turn these lyrics into a daily prayer? Do you think that God would begin to open our eyes to opportunities all around us to bear witness for him, opportunities that we are currently missing? I am ashamed to say that I seldom ask God to lead me to someone who needs to be told or reminded of his love and of the salvation that he has offered in Jesus Christ. Join me in recommitting to pray this prayer or one like it on a daily basis and let’s see what happens.
Your brother in Christ and fellow disciple,
Kevin Youngblood

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