Both men had a fire in their eyes with Jesus at the center, but their flames were different. Have you ever noticed that you can listen to someone talk about Jesus, but as they say all of the right things, there still seems to be a disconnect? While others you run into always seem to focus you like a laser beam on what truly matters.
When I see it in churches, I sometimes call it the programmatic versus the spiritual, but I doubt that is the best way to describe it. It is hard to put a fine point on it because the programmatic is not wrong in itself. Even spiritual churches have programmatic elements. I think I use the word programmatic because it sometimes feels that way. The leaders appear to be doing what they know they should be doing, but they do not seem to be doing it in a way that tells me that they believe their very lives depend upon the Gospel they are preaching. What makes the difference? I suppose it all comes down to the hearts of those involved.
The first man, a church leader, had a fire in his eyes, and Christ was at the center, but Jesus seemed to be a means to an end. Everything surrounding the ministry where he labored was orthodox. People came, heard the word, and were often even blessed by his preaching, but in his heart, he was building his own kingdom where the people would revere his name, a place where he could leave his legacy. His faith was real, but he still seemed to have one foot planted in the world, and it showed. Well, not to everyone. There were many in the congregation who had hearts split between heaven and earth as well, and they did not seem to notice.
They did not notice, at least, until they got a chance to hear the second man begin to speak because the fire in his eyes was pure. The first man tended to view knowing Jesus as a means of building his ministry. The second man saw knowing Jesus as the goal. He had found the Pearl of Great Price and was willing to sell all he had to possess it (Matt. 13:45-46), even his own pastorate. Christ was beautiful to him, so that is who he pursued. His ministry was something he did to show the world the beauty of Christ so others could know Him too. There was a love for his Lord in his eyes that made believers want to know their Savior the way he did.
Two things seemed to separate these men and their ministries. The first had to do with where they found thier strength. The first one worked with a high degree of self-reliance, where the second one knew his weakness so well that he dared only to rely on Christ. The second aspect had to do with where they considered home. The first, to some degree, still had his mind set on the things of the world. Even when he preached on setting your mind on things above, he did it with a heart that hoped he was establishing his own glory here. The second man had been broken. His heart had been set free from this world. He knew it could no longer satisfy, so he had given up pursuing its glory a long time ago. One seemed to be walking home and calling others to go with him while the other appeared to be content in this strange land.
Here is what I noticed in their preaching, to take a thought from Jayber Crow, one of them was troubled enough to have something worthwhile to say. The first one was unable to show us the emptiness of even the glorious things of this life compared to Christ because he had yet to see their vanity. The second man felt a shuddering within him; he knew the things of this world are trembling all around us. No matter the topic, his words and actions shone like a spotlight on our glorious Savior and our true homeland.
What about you? Where is your heart? Is Jesus the end you seek, or a means to an end? Are you awake enough to feel the frailty of this world convulse beneath you to such a degree that you dare not place your hope in it? We aspire to be like what we find beautiful. May your love for Jesus compel you to grow into His likeness, because if we have no desire to be conformed to His image or make his name known, we may not find Him beautiful like we say we do. We may still have our hearts set on this world. May God show us the vanity of this world compared to Himself and turn our eyes heavenward. May we be troubled enough by this world and all it has to offer to have something worth saying, and if we are too comfortable, may the Lord shake us from our slumber. May we be able to acknowledge that we are strangers and exiles on the earth.
For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. – Hebrews 11:14