Is Jesus Enough?
Last week I shared how the funeral service of Billy Graham impacted me deeply. It renewed a fervor inside of me to simply Get Back to Jesus. I feel a renewed sense of purpose in my life to return to the basics. To make it a priority that those I come in contact with don’t leave my presence without knowing I love Jesus. I long to cling to the Word of God and complete my enjoyment of Him by living the lyrics of the cross in my everyday.
I realize, however, that in order to get back to Jesus, I have to first believe He is enough. I will never live in wholehearted devotion to Him if I don’t believe in the core of my being that He is all I need.
Is Jesus Enough?
Is He enough for me today in the busy clamor of homeschooling three pixies? Is He enough when I fear the thoughts inside my head might become a reality? Is He enough when I can't see the purposes being worked out for good?
Is He enough for you? Is He enough for the heartache you feel when no one else is looking? Is He enough when the pleasures of this world glisten like diamonds pulling our heart to the things of this world? Is He enough when we say goodbye to our best friend on earth?
Is Jesus Enough?
I am reminded of those ancient words of Paul in Philippians 3. This has long been my favorite passage of Scripture. With poetic eloquence Paul writes,
“But whatever was to my profit, I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, 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.” (Philippians 3:7-9a)
Whatever was to my profit, I consider loss ... everything is LOSS compared to the riches of knowing Christ. How many of us consider knowing Christ as the most precious thing in our lives?
The weight of Paul's words here cannot be overlooked. He's not just making a general statement of devotion to God. He goes to the extreme to prove his point.
In the preceding verses (v. 5-6) he lists seven things that were considered excellent in his field. Writers in Paul's time often included such lists in debates. It was so they could compare themselves to their opponent and show how they were different, better.
And why did he feel the need to compare himself? Because there were some Jewish teachers who were trying to win Gentile converts over to Judaism and forcing them to be circumcised. And they were using their religious status to do it, which was customary.
This angered Paul. He knew their laws and regulations. And he himself was more qualified than anyone to try and do the same. But Paul's radical conversion to follow Christ gives him a new confidence.
So Paul lists out his credentials. But what I love is that he uses this common device of rhetoric and then undermines it. Whereas speakers listed their own excellencies to win debates, Paul lists what his culture would have considered most excellent in his field, then basically says, "You see this, all this excellent stuff. Pretty awesome, right? Well, it's as good as excrement when I consider it alongside of the opportunity to know Jesus."
Paul possessed all these things that could have won him the debate.
First, he has privileges from birth. He was a native Israelite through and through. An actual descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, he had every reason to be proud of his heritage. He had strong DNA.
He was also a church-guy. Circumcised on the eighth day, Paul adhered exactly to the church “rules” as he was supposed to.
As for his educational experience, Paul was very learned, a Pharisee taught under one of the most well-known doctors of law of the day, Gamaliel. His education was flawless. Among an elite people (the Jews), he was part of the inner crowd (the Pharisees). There were never more than 6,000 Pharisees at a time. He was in.
In addition, Paul was zealous towards God, persecuting the church. His educational intellectualism actively manifested itself. He worked out physically what he believed mentally.
And this leads to another strength, he was blameless concerning righteousness based on the law. When others saw the standard Paul set, they set out to attain it. He was the bar, per se. Faultless according to the law’s standards.
There are few of us who can boast of Paul’s perfect pedigree or blameless law-abiding. And yet, he says, “All this is LOSS.” Why? Because Jesus is Enough.
Paul believed: I don’t need any of these things, just give me Jesus. The word "loss" in this passage is used sparingly in the New Testament, and it usually used in connection to violence, like a shipwreck. Paul was in essence saying, "I am shipwrecked for Christ." He considered himself a loser without Christ. All these gains together were summed up in one big loss.
We also have “gains” to our name. There are things we can each boast of personally. Where do we gain our confidence? Is it in our pedigree, our education, our connections, our relationships? What is it that you are basing your worth on? Is it keeping you from knowing that Jesus is Enough?
I believe the key to knowing Jesus is Enough rests in several things.
1. Realize the Good Can Ruin the Best
Paul knew that ultimately these “good” things according to the world would ruin him, if he did not have Christ. Nothing else mattered. Christ was everything to him, his one big gain. The good could all together be shipwrecked in order for him to receive the best.
Life is beautiful, filled with good things from our Heavenly Father. But none of these things can or should replace Him. When we are tempted to let the good things become the end game, we squander the best thing we have going for us: Christ in us, the hope of glory.
2) Count Everything Else Rubbish in Light of Jesus
Maybe we should literally begin counting everything else rubbish. List the things out on paper that we consider gain and then hold these things to the light of Jesus... watch the things of this world grow strangely dim in the light of His glory. Count our gains, and find them wanting on the scales.
I love the word “rubbish” in verse nine. When we lived in England we quickly got in the habit of calling our trash, rubbish. It's what the English do. Today, the pixies can often still be overheard saying, “Hand me that rubbish.” It makes my heart smile.
When I was in college, I did a study on this Greek word because it is quite rare. The "rubbish" Paul refers to here can be translated in two ways. Either as excrement or waste that is only fit to be thrown to the dogs. Paul wasn't joking when he said these things could not compare to Christ.
When we give our lives to Christ intitally, we consider the cost. We count whether we are all in or not. And we decide that He is enough, worth the cost. Everything else is waste, rubbish.
3) Be Found In Him
I love the imagery of the words here. I picture myself, the branch, being grafted into Him, the vine. If we hide ourselves in Him, we will find that He is the only One truly worth knowing. He is enough.
As a branch grafted into the vine, I can find safety and security when the winds around buffet me. I will know His joy as I am found in His Word studying the joy of the Lord. I will experience His peace as I present my requests to the Lord, with thanksgiving, praying in His presence.
The more I talk to Him, the more I spend time with Him, I slowly discover the gain of being found in Him. How can you spend time today being found in Him? There is no safer place to rest our lives than in the presence of the Lord.
When we realize that the good can ruin the best, count everything rubbish in light of Christ, and be found in Him, we will discover that Jesus is Enough. He is enough for me. He is enough for you. He is enough for your spouse, children, parents.
Jesus is Enough.
“And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19