For the last six weeks or so I’ve been pondering something our pastor said in a recent sermon. He reminded us that our enemy doesn’t try to get us to run headlong into evil – not that he wouldn’t mind that. But, to fulfill his purpose he doesn’t need that. He simply seeks to knock us a degree or two out of phase. Put another way, he doesn’t need to turn our head, just shift our focus. The prophet Isaiah, speaking of Jesus going to Jerusalem to lay down His life for His bride said, Jesus “set His face like a flint.”

What does this mean? According to “set your face like flint” is the figure of speech the prophet uses to describe the Messiah’s unwavering determination to persevere in the excruciating task set before  Him. Christ would endure humiliation on His journey to the cross to die for our sins. Nearly 800 years before it happened, Isaiah foretold the suffering of the Lord’s Servant: “I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6; cf. Matthew 26:67; 27:26; Mark 15:19; Luke 22:63). 

There are so many ways our gaze can be distracted, subtle ways that are sometimes difficult to realize. I have seen this in my own life over and over again. So, I have decided to write a series of blogs sharing with you several examples of this in hope of helping you to “fix your eyes on the prize.”

Here’s the first in a series: Out of Phase #1 – Being a Servant

To pattern our life after Jesus is to be a servant. Not just seeing past our own needs, but even denying them for the needs of others. This is admirable and it is consistent with our calling as followers of Jesus. However, to model ourselves after servant Jesus, we must do so completely.

To serve like Jesus requires more than emptying ourselves. We must also fill ourselves with time alone with the Father, time of refreshment through rest, recreation, and fellowship. The needs do not stop, but our resources do and we can’t pour from an empty cup. Taking time to recharge can feel selfish. However, it is actually a very selfless thing to do. Neglecting self-care is one way our focus can shift a degree or two out of phase, but there is another shift that is equally as distracting: when our focus shifts from serving to enabling.

Whether it is intentional or not, when this shift occurs we can easily be manipulated by our own guilt or the selfishness of others and find ourselves on a pedestal not meant for us.

Though we strive to be like Jesus, to model Him in our actions and words, we are not meant to assume His role, only model it. When either the servant or the recipient of the serving begins to believe the task or responsibility at hand is solely dependent upon the ability and availability of the servant we are no longer assuming the role of servant but of savior – a role we were not intended to assume, nor one we can even remotely fulfill.

Are you called to serve? Absolutely. But, to keep our face fixed like a flint, we must balance our focus with equal parts of emptying and filling, of stepping out of our comfort zone, and living within boundaries.

And the subject of boundaries is exactly where I will pick up the next blog in this series.

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