Jesus Is Our True Compass – Greg Albrecht
Friends and Partner letter dated January, 2021
Hundreds of ideas, inventions, innovations, explorers and pioneers are considered as “world changers.” Lists of historic world changers vary, depending on who is making the list, but the compass invariably ranks high on most lists of the greatest world changers. As you know, a compass is a device used for navigation and orientation. A compass provides location and directions helping someone who is lost find their way to safety and of course it helps those who are traveling arrive at their intended destination. A simple compass has a magnetized needle that points to “true north” based on the earth’s magnetic polarity.
Before the magnetic compass (invented, adapted and updated by the Chinese some 1,000 years ago), sailors had to rely on celestial navigation for information about their location. Celestial navigation is one of the oldest practices in human history, utilizing celestial constellations to determine locations and “bearings.” Because stars are relatively fixed in their location, from ancient history people have used the position of the stars to orient themselves.
The earliest uses of celestial navigation relied heavily on visibility and observation, so when clouds and storms obscured precise locations of heavenly bodies, sailors had no idea where they were and what direction to travel.
The magnetic compass revolutionized navigation from reliance on visual observation enabling a device utilizing invisible magnetic polarity to become a more reliable guide for directions and orientation. The magnetic compass made shipping faster and safer and linked the world together via trade and travel as it had not been before.
When physical orientation is the goal, there is no doubt that the compass was a world changer when contrasted with celestial navigation. But the Greatest World Changer is our True Compass who, though we cannot “get our bearings” in darkness, and though we can’t see the direction we should head, he is the Light for our path.
When we follow the Greatest World Changer of all we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians5:7). The One who created all things is greater than celestial navigation. He created all heavenly bodies upon which celestial navigation relies and he sustains them in their places. The One who set the world spinning on its axis is the True Compass who created the means for physical orientation based on the magnetic polarity of the earth.
When God visited our world in the person of Jesus Christ, this world was given the True Compass who is “the way and the truth and the life”(John 14:6).
The True Compass of Jesus is the Cross of Christ. The Cross of Christ is our beacon and Lighthouse enabling us to navigate spiritual oceans of doubt and fear and to avoid spiritual pitfalls as we make our way through life. Jesus is the Way! The Cross of Christ is our Lighthouse upon whom we, as Christ followers, focus as we live in our world and travel as spiritual pilgrims to the Heavenly Kingdom of God.
Jesus is all that matters. Jesus is the One and only Way. Jesus alone is our guide, our shepherd and our True Compass. Because Jesus is all that matters, following the Jesus Way means being Christ centered.
What really matters in life is our spiritual and eternal destination. Our physical location and our physical trips and navigation pales into insignificance compared with our spiritual life in and with Jesus, our Savior and Shepherd and True Compass.
When we consider what really matters in life, we realize what really matters is not a “what” but a “Who.”
Most scientists believe that the world is made out of matter. But all the matter in the world was made by God. Our world was created by Who matters.
Albert Einstein said it this way: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
We can spend our lives accumulating, obtaining, building and amassing stuff—stuff that can be counted, but not everything that can be counted counts. We can be consumed by getting from hereto there, traveling from one physical destination or another. Or we can lose our physical lives and desires (Matthew 10:39) and pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
Jesus is not a compass we can hold in our hand nor is he a device like a sextant that we can use to achieve our physical goals. Jesus cannot be counted, but he and he alone counts.
Science is based on measurements, observations and testing. Science is somewhat like a physical compass that provides physical orientation. Technology provides information (like the so-called information highway of the Internet) but neither science nor technology can provide spiritual wisdom that directs the proper and appropriate use of information and knowledge.
Humanity at large has always valued people whom it believes really matter and who are of greater worth than others. Our society defines “successful” people as those who accumulate more property and more money than others. Humanity at large considers world changers to have been those who ruled countries, written books and been admired by millions for their talents and skills.
But Jesus is all that matters in the end. He and he alone is the Supreme World Changer.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1-2)
The direction of our life is Jesus. When we follow Jesus, we focus on the Cross of Christ for our orientation and direction—when we follow Jesus, he is our True Compass.
The New Testament often compares the Jesus Way to a long distance race. When we run and follow Christ we are constantly moving forward. When we run and follow Christ, we fix our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2)—our True Compass. When we run and follow Christ, we fix our eyes on and place our trust in the Cross of Christ.
Of course, as we run and follow Christ, we are continually getting closer to the end of our race.As he saw the finish line of his own life, Paul said:
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
When we fail to place God, who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, at the center of our lives—when we fail to follow the True Compass of Jesus Christ—our attention, our focus and our interest turns in on ourselves, so that we worship ourselves. We focus and follow material pursuits and we define success as excess.
It is in self-absorption and self-interest and self-gratification that humans are truly lost. When men and women are at the center of all that they can see and feel and experience and enjoy, they might think they are making progress, but they are going nowhere fast. When the goal of life is to please themselves…when the only focus is on the here and now…when the only focus is on temporal and earthly pursuits, people might be busy and engaged in all kinds of activities, but being busy is not to be confused with spiritual progress.
A constant whirlwind of activities might only mean people are running away from Jesus as fast as they can. Without Jesus Christ as our True Compass, we may be running fast but we might actually be running around in circles faster and faster.
When we accept the outstretched hands and arms of Jesus, and accept his welcome to follow him and rest in him, then we find our spiritual bearings. Jesus is the True Compass who restores us from being lost. Jesus, the True Light, can bring us out of the darkness into his Light. He is our True Compass. He is the Supreme World Changer!
“For in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Apart from Jesus, as the lyrics in the great hymn proclaim, “all other ground is sinking ground.”
Because Jesus was the Light of his life, because Jesus was his True Compass, because he had picked up his own cross in order to follow the Cross of Christ…because Paul was a Christ-follower…Paul wholeheartedly exclaimed;
“…I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith”(Philippians 3:8-9).
As we begin this New Year of 2021, let’s all get our bearings—let’s take stock of the direction in which we are headed, and may God bless you individually as you move forward following Jesus Christ, and may God bless our collective work in this ministry.
With love and friendship, your brother in Christ,