Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our 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 12:1-2

If you have been a part of a local church for any period of time, you know that the church struggles with functioning in a healthy and effective way.

When I step back and look objectively at my experiences over the years as part of the church, it becomes clear that most of the issues within the church would disappear if the church would keep its eyes fixated on Christ. Why do God’s people have such a hard time keeping their eyes on Jesus? I would submit that the reason is because God’s people fix their eyes on lesser things.

Humans are naturally attracted to beautiful things. A breathtaking sunrise, a majestic mountain, a radiant night sky, or an awe-inspiring piece of music, are all beautiful but they are a dim reflection of true beauty. Jesus Christ is true beauty and is the source of all the beauty that we experience on this earth.

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary. – Psalm 96:6

When God created the earth, He created it by and through God the Son.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. – Colossians 1:15- 16

Everything beautiful in the world is representative of the beauty of Christ, but they are just a cloudy reflection of the beauty of Christ.

I once had the opportunity to go lobstering with a lobsterman. I marveled at the beauty of the coast. It was amazing to see breathtaking islands framed by a clear blue sky reflected in the blues and greens of the ocean. The lobsterman smiled and agreed that it was indeed a beautiful place but said that because he sees it every day he doesn’t appreciate the beauty like I did.

Sadly, we all have experienced this. If you look at a pleasing painting long enough, you eventually get tired of it. If you hear a heavenly piece of music enough times, you will grow weary of listening to it. But this is not true of Christ. His beauty never diminishes. The more you fixate on Him the more beautiful He becomes, not because He is changing but because He changes you. His beauty is permanent and inexhaustible, while all created beauty in this fallen world eventually loses its appeal.

This is the source of idolatry. Idolatry occurs when we forget that all created beauty is simply a reflection of Christ’s beauty. When we are not living in awareness of this truth, we end up worshiping the creation instead of the Creator. Idolatry is at the heart of all sin. It is no wonder that when the church is not fixated on Christ it is weak, divided, and ineffective.

Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness. – Psalm 29:2

The beauty that we discover in creation is meant to lead us to worship the source of all beauty. It is intended to awaken our souls to the true beauty, which is Christ Jesus. He is a beautiful Savior. We should be fascinated by Him and Him alone.

Evaluate your life. What are you investing your time and resources into? What has your attention? Are you distracted by the things of this world? Do you see a pattern in your life where you get enamored with something or someone for a time and then you are on to something or someone else? Take time to ask God to expose you to the reality of what it is you are worshiping. The next time that you see something beautiful remember that what you are experiencing is but a dim reflection of Christ who is the source of true beauty. 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace

Helen Lemmel