Jun 1, 2020 2632
Most people have an inward focus. But it’s important in life to have an outward focus rather than an inward focus. It’s an important key to fulfilment and happiness.
We are sent out by God.
There’s been a large amount of research that points to the conclusion that the more you value your relationships with others, the happier you will be. This is contrary to the values of western culture that tell you that you need to find happiness independently of others. And this sets us up for failure in our question for happiness.
While it’s important to develop a healthy sense of self, the purpose of doing that is so that you can reach out and enrich the lives of others. As you do that, you develop quality relationships. This fulfils the second greatest commandment of Christ, to love others as yourself (Mark 12:31).
This essentially means that just as you invest in yourself, you need to be investing in others. Your look must be essentially outward, not inward.
You see this clearly in the gospels. Jesus is always sending his followers “out.” Instead, he is always sending them out into their communities, and out into the world. Look at the language that the Bible uses,
Jesus “began to send them out” (Mark 6:7). Jesus said, “I send you out” (Mark 10:16). “He sent them out” (Luke 9:2). Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out…?” (Luke 22:35). Jesus prayed to the Father, “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:18). And of course, Christ’s great Gospel Commission is to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15, NIV).
It’s very clear, isn’t it? But somehow, I think some Christians have forgotten this. Along the way it somehow became too difficult or perhaps just inconvenient. Today the principal idea of some Christians often seems to be one of collecting people “in” to their church buildings and communities.
Just as much as you invest in yourself, you need to be investing in others.
The importance of having an outward focus extends to every aspect of life. When Jesus dealt with people, his focus was never inward, toward himself, but outward, toward others.
You see it in the simplest of things. When Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead, his first thought was for her, that she have something to eat (Mark 5:43). And you see it in the deepest encounters, such as the one he had with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:1-26). Yes, Jesus is hungry and thirsty. However, all of his attention is focused on gently healing the wounds of this poor woman’s heart, to fill her soul with the water of life.
It’s significant that Jesus sent his followers out “to every city and place where He Himself was going to come” (Luke 10:1). That’s the reason why we too are sent out: to prepare the way of the Lord (Mark 1:3). We are to prepare people’s hearts for the Saviour.
But we can’t go out if we have an inward focus. We can only be effective when we go out if we have an outward focus. As you read the story of Jesus, you see his attention, not on himself, but on others and their needs. He was here to serve, not to be served. His heart was continually open to others. He was truly sent “out” from heaven. He truly poured his life “out” for the world.