It seems that my life runs in chapters with themes very often. I will find that a particular theme seems to rise to the top during particular seasons of my life. Over and over again, I find myself hearing similar things and I think I’d be an idiot not to pay attention.
Lately, the biggest theme to me has to do with who we are as followers of Christ on the earth. Anyone who grew up in the church may be familiar with a hymn called, “This World Is Not My Home.” Throughout Scripture, there is an overwhelming sense of exile among the people of God. There is a constant wandering, a constant displacement, a constant discomfort of never quite fitting in. Any of you who can relate to that?
Despite that “never quite fitting in” feeling, followers of Christ are not to gravitate towards assimilation into the ways of the world but are also not to gravitate towards withdrawal or isolationism. The book of Jeremiah speaks to the exiles in Babylon and gives clear instructions around chapter 29 as to how these exiles are to live. In fact, there is an oft misquoted verse from this chapter which gains a much grander meaning when taken in context with the chapter, book, and context.
Not only are Christ followers to feel this discomfort of never quite being at home or fitting in, but they also need their all, their everything to come from one place alone: Christ. Is Jesus enough? If you had nothing else, would Jesus be enough for you?
It’s a tough question that I have wrestled with over and over in the last few weeks. I believe Jesus is enough for salvation. I believe Jesus is enough to bring me an abundant life. But do I believe that if I lost everything that I would be content in Jesus alone?
Our westernized version of Christianity has a way of promoting a “Christ Plus” approach towards Christianity. We’re happy with Christ but we also want other things and we generally put them alongside Jesus, maybe never articulating it but certainly demonstrating it with our lives. We’re okay at finding contentment in Jesus when our families are fine and healthy, when we maintain our jobs, when we get along with the neighbors, when our 401K is performing well, and when everything seems to be going our way. We consider that to be the “abundant life” and feel that it’s not a privilege or a gracious gift but rather a God-given right. We’re wrong.
Years ago, Keith Green wrote a song called “I Pledge My Head To Heaven.” He sang about giving up the things that he loved the most, his family, for the sake of the Gospel. His sole desire was to give his all to Christ with no distractions. He did not want it to be “Christ Plus” other things, he did not want to find that his contentment was found in Christ AND in other things, but only in Christ alone. Years after he wrote that song, his life was snuffed out in a plane crash.
This theme emerged again to me as I sat down to read a book called “True Spirituality” by Francis Schaeffer. He speaks of the centrality of death, not that we should focus or be consumed by death, but that we might realize that following after Christ is a daily dying to one’s self, a laying down of selfish desires in order that God might be glorified. Schaeffer seems to have been a prophet ahead of his time whose words speak truth decades after they were written.
So I’m wondering, is Jesus enough? Can I find my contentment in him alone? Do I believe that he is enough? Am I willing to lay down my life, take up my cross, and follow him daily? Or does it only happen when it seems convenient for me? These are tough questions with which to wrestle and I need to spend some more time pondering an honest answer.