When Jesus Tells You to Look
By Nathan Bramsen
Many hearts are burdened and overwhelmed by the state and practice of our world. Our news feeds are incessantly filled with violence, anger, injustice, and confusion. Yet there is no wonder in my mind about why many Christians feel disillusioned, discouraged, and even depressed. What we feed will grow, and when our minds are absorbing and digesting the constant stream of the world, the result will be what the world gives: unrest.
In contrast, Jesus promised, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) So where would Jesus tell you to look in a world of turmoil? I suggest the same three places He instructed His disciples to turn their gaze to.
Look at the fowl
Heaviness of life isn’t a new phenomenon. In the Bible, Jesus repeats few things three times, let alone three times in one passage. That said, in Matthew 6, Jesus repeatedly commands, “Do not worry.” (vv. 25, 31, 34) He doesn’t give this directive to His followers as mere encouragement or as an inspirational way to view life. Rather, Jesus points to the big picture. He doesn’t say their problems are illegitimate, but rather, He points to the ultimate reality that they have a Father in heaven who cares for the birds of the sky. “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matthew 6:26) The solution to an anxious heart is more than turning your eyes away from the cares of this world; it is focusing your gaze on our heavenly Father’s compassion.
Look at the fields
The enemy would love to keep believers in Christ Jesus consumed with the cares of this life and, thus, prevent them from looking at this second imperative. In John 4:35, Jesus tells some distracted disciples, “Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Our calling as Christ followers is not to survive the journey that is life, but rather, our calling is to be the “light of the world” and “a city that is set on a hill.” (Matthew 5:14) We live in a world where billions have yet to hear the Gospel. Are we so consumed with social issues that may preserve life for a time that we ignore and delay our duty to proclaim the only message that provides true hope and eternal life? We must lift up our eyes and embrace the marvelous opportunity before us to co-labor with the Lord of the harvest.
Look at the fig tree
As believers in Jesus Christ, we have the privilege of knowing the end of the story. Jesus reminded His disciples not to lose sight of the last earthly chapter. In Luke 21:29, He tells them, “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees.” His purpose in commanding them to take a closer look at the fig tree is to teach them that a person can quickly recognize the season based on the “things happening.” (Luke 21:31)
The very things in the world that might tempt to overwhelm the Christian ought to remind us that God is true and that though “heaven and earth will pass away, . . . My words will by no means pass away.” (Luke 21:33) This is not a longing for Christ’s return so we may escape the present world, but it is a call to be faithful until the end, knowing that we shall soon be forever with the Lord.
My fellow coworkers in the Gospel, rather than grow weary, let us choose to look where Christ instructed. May we not fill our minds with the nonsensical arguments of this world when many peoples live enshrouded in darkness. We have the answer for their soul!
The time is short. The opportunity is great. May we lift up our eyes and look.
Nathan Bramsen serves in special areas.
Originally published in Missions magazine, September 2022. For more content, sign up for a free subscription (US) to Missions at CMML.us/magazine/subscribe.