One of our favorite annual flowers that we put in our planters each spring is the gazania. If you are not familiar with it, it looks a bit like a sunflower but the plant gets only about 8 inches tall. It blooms all summer and has very brilliant blossoms in shades of red, orange, and purple. One of the interesting features is that the blossoms only open up in full sun. They do not open if it is cloudy or if they are in the shade, and they close as soon as they are out of the direct sunlight.
To me it is a picture of the importance of us as believers staying in the “Sonlight” and focused upon the Son of God, Jesus Christ. There are lots of things that can come between us and the Son, things that distract us from our focus on Him and His Word, and as a result, we sort of “close up” and people don’t see the beauty of Christ is us. Athletes talk a lot about “staying focused” in order to be successful. As Christians we too need to stay focused on Christ if we are going to be a positive witness to the world. It’s easy to let our busyness–or our business–come between us and the Lord and we lose the reflection of Christ through our lives. Instead, we start manifesting the self-centeredness and sinfulness of our old flesh. Gazanias are not very pretty when they close up due to lack of sunshine. Similarly, we believers are not very pretty when we aren’t living in the “sonshine” of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We still have our old natures and no matter how long we have been saved, our old nature has not improved. It is still full of ugliness.
Paul the Apostle definitely kept his eyes focused on the Lord throughout his missionary ministry. In fact his testimony to the church at Philippi was, “…one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phi. 3:13,14). Paul consistently kept his focus on Christ and not on the circumstances which often could easily have pulled him down spiritually and marred his testimony and service for the Lord. He was so confident in his “focus” that he could challenge others to “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” ( Cor. 11:1 cf 4:16). The Apostle Paul was definitely a “Gazania Christian” who kept his life exposed to the Son.
Do people consistently see the beauty of Christ in you, or do they more often see the ugliness of your old flesh? Do they see the “fruit of the Spirit” (the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control), or do they see the works of the flesh (idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness and carousing) (Gal. 5:19-23). The difference will be whether we are focused on the Son or on our problems, our weaknesses, others, or the allurements of the world system.
Albert Orsborn and Tom Jones wrote a chorus which expresses the importance of opening up to the Son so that others can see Him in our lives.
Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me–
all His wonderful passion and purity!
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine, *
Till the beauty of Jesus of Jesus be seen in me.
Just be sure that if people admire some quality in your life that really belongs to Christ, that you give God the credit and the glory. As Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Mt. 5:16). The Apostle Paul was quick to say, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (I Cor. 15:10). He said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved my, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Similarly, to the Philippians he wrote, “For me, to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).
Are you a “gazania Christian?” Do you display the beauty of Christ through your life by focusing on His beauty and the beauty of His Word?
*God in reality gives us a new nature. Our old nature is not improvable The rest of the song is great!