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Discipleship Mission

The Outward Focus of Discipleship

August 24, 2012, 0 Comments

An outward focus requires a true form of humility, which isn’t come to, as C.S. Lewis famously said by thinking less of yourself but by thinking of yourself less. Easier said than done though, right?

How does a person think of themselves less? Certainly not by sheer will. If you try and try to think of yourself less and less you’ll only find that you’re thinking of yourself more and more—you’re thinking about how to make yourself think less of yourself! No, the only real way is to look to something so beautiful, so captivating, so wonderful, that your full attention and affection is focused there.

No one stands at the rim of the Grand Canyon and thinks about how great they are. No one stares into the billions of stars in the sky and considers their own importance. When you are confronted with true greatness, you fix your attention there.

You think less of yourself by pondering, over and over again, Jesus. His life, death, and resurrection. The gospel, over and over again. This is the spirit behind the early Christian hymn Paul recorded for us in Philippians 2 when he urged his readers to make their attitude like that of Christ Jesus,

Who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when he had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. For this reason God highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:6-11).

An outward focus requires that we look to Jesus as our focal point, not just merely as a good example. The imagination-capturing, awe-inspiring Son of God is more than enough to hold our gaze. And when we feel it wandering somewhere else, we must refocus on Him again and again.

Interestingly, as we focus on Jesus more passionately, we will increasingly focus on others as well. Notice what Paul said just before this beautiful refrain about the beauty of Christ: “Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).

Do you want to stop thinking about yourself? Look to Jesus.

Do you want to start thinking of others? Look to Jesus.

If you want to live an outwardly focused life, then look to Jesus again and again. This tie between our worship of Jesus and our outward focus on those around us

is evident all throughout Scripture. As the early church learned more about all that had been done for them in the gospel, it shifted their focus to Jesus and they found themselves caring for others in a truly selfless kind of way:

Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as anyone had a need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple complex and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with a joyful and humble attitude, praising God and having favor with all the people. And every day the Lord added to them those who were being saved (Acts 2:44-47).

Jesus reiterated this by reminding the people of His day of the greatest commandments of all, the ones that sum up all the others: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the law and the Prophets depend on these two commands” (Matt. 22:37-39).

The posture of the disciple is an outward facing one. That makes all the sense in the world when we consider what the outward facing disciple is looking to.

 

an excerpt from Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow

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