There’s a command in the New Testament we ought to lift up as the orienting aspiration for our lives.

It’s from the apostle Paul just before his execution, in the last of his letters. It’s given to Timothy, his son in the faith, alongside other instructions for Christian life and leadership. After encouraging Timothy to endure suffering as he runs the race, Paul—who’s suffering “to the point of being bound like a criminal”—tells his spiritual son,

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead and descended from David, according to my gospel. (2 Tim. 2:8, CSB).

In everything, no matter the circumstances or hardship, whatever cultural challenges or church problems arise, remember Jesus the King, Israel’s Messiah descended from David, the One raised from the dead.

Center of the Christian Life

This truth marks the center of the Christian life: Reigning over creation is the crucified Messiah of Israel and risen Lord of the world.

Paul’s admonition is another way of saying, Keep the gospel central, my son. Don’t lose sight of the center.

We’ll face all manner of distractions in the Christian life. In all our work and play, in all our streaming and scrolling, we can easily forget Jesus. The gospel can slip to the back of our minds. We lose sight of his lordship. We fail to grapple with the implications of his resurrection.

We’re prone to keep putting self back on the throne, imagining we’re at the center of the universe, with our family, our church, and everyone in society revolving around us like planets orbit the sun.

But the apostle Paul holds Jesus Christ before our eyes, as if to say, “Look here. Don’t stop looking. Remember. Do not forget.” This is what life is all about. This is the One who rules the cosmos. This is the One who knows you better than you know yourself, yet loves you anyway. King Jesus is the point of everything.

Center of Christian Fellowship

One of the best things we can do for our brothers and sisters in Christ in an anxious age, a time filled with angst and insecurity, a moment of deep division and disorientation, is to do what Paul did for Timothy. To point people back to Christ and his kingdom.

Stressed? Scared? Anxious? Distracted? Remember King Jesus. Take time to avert your eyes from everything else and look squarely at him. Look to his perfect life in your place. Look to his death on the cross for your sins. Look to his resurrection victory. Look to his exaltation as king. Look to his promise to come again.

In the church, we’re prone to shift the cross from the center and replace it with a cause (most likely a good one!). But if we as God’s people don’t remind each other that Jesus is the King of kings, who will? If the church herself forgets Jesus by pushing him to the periphery, who else will trumpet the good news? Unless we keep our focus on Jesus as the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, we’ll drift until we become little more than a society of social workers or a political action committee. We’ll do work in the name of One we have forgotten. Or, worse, we’ll misuse his name for our agenda, not his.

Center of Our Service

But Trevin, you may say, there’s so much that deserves our focus right now. Shouldn’t we be concerned about the direction of our country? Aren’t you deflated by the decline of the church? How can I not be preoccupied with the challenges facing my family right now? Am I supposed to just grit my teeth and ignore a season of sadness and suffering?

Remembering King Jesus does not remove us from the world we’re called to serve. It gives us the proper perspective so our actions can be most spiritually effective.

Remembering King Jesus does not deflect our attention from challenges in the church. It reminds us why there’s a church in the first place and who is her Head.

Remembering King Jesus does not resolve all the problems that arise. It gives us an orienting center from which to face our griefs and pains.

Remembering King Jesus does not diminish our concern for justice and righteousness. It fuels our activity so our motivations don’t slip into ever-common grooves of self-righteousness and contempt.

I’ve always loved the old hymn “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,” but the line that says “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in light of his glory and grace” is only true for some aspects of earthly existence—those temporal concerns and worries that keep us preoccupied when we lose sight of the big picture.

Most of the time, when we turn our eyes upon Jesus, the things of earth grow clearer, not dimmer. We interpret the things of earth with more insight, with wisdom from above, with a sharpness of clarity that comes from the Spirit. We put things in perspective; the outlines and edges come into sharper focus because our lens is zoomed in on Jesus the King.

The best thing we can do in the year ahead is to remember King Jesus and to remind others of his centrality as well. Consciously. Daily. Devotedly. Shai Linne reminds us of this Jesus who is

the God-glorifier,
the universe-Creator,
the prophecy-fulfiller,
the perfect law-obeyer,
the Scripture-validator,
the Father-honorer,
the humility-modeler,
the cross-carrier,
the sin-bearer,
the death-conqueror,
the grave-defeater,
the salvation-achiever,
the prayer-answerer,
the proud-humbler,
the weak-strengthener,
the elect-preserver,
the triumphant returner,
the justice-executor,
the Satan-destroyer,
the eternal joy-giver . . .

Remember King Jesus.

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