Transformation By Focus



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A young man walked up to me once after a meeting and told me about his academic problems.

He had lots of F’s and was no longer sure of graduating with a good grade.

I told him that you don’t really solve problems by looking at them…we are changed by focus.

 

What did I mean? 

And what should we focus on?

 

Well, the bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that as we behold the Lord like in a mirror, we are transformed into His likeness.

In other words, if we want to create change in our lives and circumstances, it’s by shifting our focus from us to Him.

Now, as we do that, we are changed…we evolve, we experience what I call metamorphosis…

 

it’s not the circumstance that needs to change…it’s the person that needs to change

Exactly!

 

That was how I experienced my healing.

I was very sick from childhood.

I had acute asthma and chronic bronchitis…and lots of others.

Nothing the doctors did could give me lasting relief.

Even after I became a Christian, I was still sick.

But two months after I gave my life to Jesus Christ, I was reading the bible on a day that I was fasting and I came to 1 Corinthians 5:17…to the part that says ‘if any man is in Christ, he is a new creation…the old has passed away, the new has come.”

That verse arrested me and mysteriously, I knew that very moment that I would never be sick again.

 

I believe that what happened there was that as I beheld Christ in His word, I saw my true self. 

And the moment I saw that, the disease left…

 

so the whole essence of focus is to discover and become the new you…

 

Sure…

If we want to know ourselves, we don’t consult ourselves…

If we really want to know who we are, it’s not by looking at our strengths and weaknesses as psychologists and secular humanists teach.

All these things are consulting the flesh…looking at the natural. 

Because if we are in Christ, then we automatically have the nature and dimension of Christ…

 

So if you want to discover yourself, it’s to look at Christ to see who you are.

Then you are able to make adjustments…it’s who you are.

 

Think of the iroko tree or the oak tree. 

At one point, all that there is to that tree is  a mere single seed.

Nevertheless all of that tree, all it could ever be,  was in the seed as potential. 

 

Everything is like that with the New Creation.

You are saved, and yet you are still being saved.  It’s like God is always focusing on the end of things. 

so the process is taking you from where you are to where you should be.  

But he keeps looking at you like somebody who is already there, because that is his nature, he’s the God of faith that’s just how God is. 

 

What happens is that when people are still looking at themselves naturally and are “…trying to be something,’  they also begin to focus more or less on their limitations and weaknesses. 

But when you think of yourself as, “I’m just like Christ,  It’s His very life that I have,” then what you are doing is that you are just finding out how that nature works, how He works…then you just flow into it…more and more like Him

 

So it’s really who you are and yet it is what you are becoming. 

 

And that is why we have to not look at ourselves if we want to change.

Of course, there are so many things we want to change about ourselves, particularly as Christians, we want to change our bad habits, you know, like procrastination, laziness, and so on.  We want to change things about us that we don’t like and that God doesn’t like.

But what that scripture is saying is that you don’t need to try to change your habits…

 

Yes, you might be thinking, “Ok, so what do you think we should do…”

Well, it’s all quite interesting…really, come to think of it, for years, that’s all we generally do as Christians – trying to change one aspect or the other.

 

But now, think in terms of  2 Corinthians 3:18, “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD.

 

You know, from that scripture, the bible says, ‘as we behold him…as we behold him…’

So what we should do is to behold him. 

 

If we look at him, which is different from looking at ourselves, then we are changed by Him!

Someone has said that you become what you behold.  How true!

If you are constantly focusing on your weaknesses, it is difficult to change because you are beholding the wrong thing.

We should shift our beholding from us to Him!

Then the bible says that mysteriously, we begin to evolve into His likeness.

I’ve seen that happen in my life.

 

When you focus on something, you tend to start doing that thing without even making a conscious decision about it. 

So what you focus on begins to shape you.

 

As write these things, I’m thinking about things like worship and staying in God’s presence.

As we were growing up as Christians, we get to the point where we want to stay more in His presence, we want to pray more.

At that point we may begin to make plans like “ok I will spend between 4:30am and 6:30am in prayer…,” we begin to try to have an action plan.

I think that’s the wrong focus. 

Perhaps, you are not the type that wakes up early. So you think that if you could just change the time you wake up, then your fellowship with God and prayer life would improve.

It’s the wrong focus because you are simply trying to keep awake, and that’s not the essence of worship – keeping awake!

But if you could just focus on being with God, you understand that it’s not a ‘time’ thing. 

You understand that it’s just like when you want to stay with a friend or lover – you don’t have to time it. 

You love to spend time with that person.  You naturally want to.  It’s not really a ‘time’ thing.

I know it’s good to be disciplined, but the important thing is to just focus on being with him and not trying to change something about yourself.

Wanting to be with him and being motivated by that need and being driven by that desire, things will change

What you focus on begins to shape you…

 

And it will be effortless, without struggle.

 

There’s so much struggle today as people try to improve themselves.

One of the areas I see struggles is in the so called battle against sin. 

You can’t defeat sin by looking at sin. 

Jesus Christ has already fought and defeated it. 

And He doesn’t expect us to fight what He has fought and overcome again!

He says “You’ve already overcome.  So all you do is look at me. You don’t have to fight these things…I did the fighting for you.”

 

I tried for years to overcome lack in my life.

I read books.  I read principles.  I tried to find wisdom. 

Until I realized that just as I was healed looking at Christ, the power of poverty will be broken by looking at Christ. 

So I began to meditate on the riches of Christ.

The moment I saw it, poverty lost it’s grip!

 

So it’s like as you are looking at Christ, all of a sudden, the truth hits you about that thing and once it hits you, you know that you know that you know that this is it. 

It’s not about trying to believe it, trying to have faith for this or that;  it’s like, “so this is what it is!” and it just settles it. 

it is the realization of who you are that produces the change…

 

Jesus simply says to us, “don’t try to be healthy or successful, just be.  You already are.”

You see, we are all coming from a fallen background.  So it’s understandable when we think of ourselves as imperfect.

But then, it is only when we take away our attention from our selves and focus on Jesus Christ that we can experience the transformation that we seek.

I wasn’t an exceptionally smart student when I was in school.

But after my encounter with Jesus, one day, I reasoned with the word that I have the mind of Christ.

Then, suddenly, it hit me!

 

That realization so altered my academic performance in my late secondary and university life phase,  that I became nicknamed Albert Einstein!

 

I believe that one of the things that God helped me do as a young Christian, and which I encourage to practice, is to read the bible.

I think the bible is neglected a lot in today’s Christianity because of the availability of books, tapes and activities.

So the bible has become like a relic from the past, something boring.  So we wait for the preachers to read and interpret for us.

But that direct contact with the bible is simply invaluable.

 

I remember so vividly how as a new believer, I loved to read the bible as a book.

I had the desire to finish the book of this and the book of that in the bible.

I just read it and I used a very simple translation.  So I enjoyed it.

I believe that if you are reading the bible, you are fellowshipping with God. 

Because of what is in John 1:1.

 

So it’s that closeness to the word of God that creates the change. 

And any Christian can do it. 

It’s simple. 

Just take the bible and don’t think of it as a classical literature that is beyond your comprehension. 

Take it and sit back and enjoy it as you would a love letter or even a magazine article!

A lot of these ‘books of the bible’ were just letters!  They were read single meetings!

So if we do that, it will help us a lot.

This beholding occurs as we read the bible. 

For me, that was the beginning.

 

Then eventually, because of my involvement with music, I also began to enjoy worship which is another way we can behold him. 

Through singing, being in his presence, you get to receive revelations about yourself, God and things you couldn’t have thought of.

 

Still reflecting on this issue of ‘beholding’…

If you see a lady who is always in perfect looks in terms of make-up and fashion, ask he how many times she looks into the mirror.  

You cannot have someone who doesn’t look into the mirror at all the whole day and the person is still intact fashion-wise!

People whose make-ups are always perfect look into the mirror a lot.

So I’m thinking to myself that for any Christian to maintain a godly standard and actually live out your life as a Christian, you have to ‘behold’ that often.

Which means it’s not a once-and-for-all thing.

Still with the fashion analogy; you can spend one hour looking at the mirror making sure that everything is ok, but if you stay for too long without looking at the mirror, you might not notice when things fall out of place.  Something that may even have been right may have started going wrong.  It could be something about the dress, or the mascara, or the powder, and so on.

And that’s the way it is with the Christian life.

Really, by the time a Christian starts getting off track, if he or she is sincere, it’s because you haven’t been spending time with God.

 

So begin to refocus.

 

There’s so much that has been said in terms of motivational talks about looking inwards, finding out your strengths, your weaknesses.

There’s a lot of hype today about self analysis and all that…but your focus should be on Jesus, who is the word of God. 

As you behold him, as you focus on Him, you will become more and more like him without any struggles but purely on the basis of what you are looking at.

 

So I think that the main thing we should address in our lives is the question, ‘what are we focusing on? 

What are we beholding?’

 

Focus on God and His word. 

How?

It’s simple…

If you can begin to read your bible,

If you can begin to worship

If you can begin to associate with Christians that love the Lord

It will begin to affect all aspects of your life.


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