Recently I was reminded of this little story from Zen Buddhism:
A young, but earnest Zen student approached his teacher, and asked the Master, “If I work very hard and diligently, how long will it take for me to find Zen? The Master thought about this, then replied, “Ten years . .”
The student then said, “But what if I work very, very hard and really apply myself to learn fast — How long then?”
Replied the Master, “Well, twenty years.”
“But, if I really, really work at it, how long then?” asked the student.
“Thirty years,” replied the Master.
“But, I do not understand,” said the disappointed student. “At each time that I say I will work harder, you say it will take me longer. Why do you say that?”
Replied the Master, “When you have one eye on the goal, you only have one eye on the path.”
Christians have had an unfortunate recent history of being people with one eye on the goal. Meaning that many people have encountered Christianity as a religion that teaches "how to get to heaven". We even have it down to a formula - you are sinner + God cannot be in the presence of sin - repent of your sin + accept Jesus = heaven.
Frankly it is kinda messed up. Perhaps one of the reasons that many Christians think the world is headed in the wrong direction is because we do not have both out eyes on the world at hand. We have one eye on heaven and one eye on earth. We are cross eyed.
If we hold to what Jesus says in John 14:6*, "I am the Way..." then we have to keep both eyes on the Way.
I have had a few conversations with marathon runners over the past several months. Mostly to figure out why anyone would want to run a marathon, but in the conversations I heard several runners tell me a trick to running a marathon. Since the marathon is so long and you cannot see the finish line, the best way to keep your spirit up while you run that distance is to look 5-8 feet in front of you.
You see, runners get it. They keep both eyes on the Way they are going. They do not keep one eye out looking for the finish line. They trust the path that has been laid out for them will take them to the destination - even if they cannot see the destination.
We say Jesus is the forerunner of the faith. Jesus says he is the Way. As followers of the Way of Jesus, let us trust in the Way that is before us. Let us keep both eyes on the Christ and trust he will lead us to the destination.
*If you are thinking, Jason, aren't you taking that text out of context? Probably, but this text is always taken out of context. If it can be taken out of context to condemn others, then I don't have a problem taking it out of context to critique my own religious tradition.