ADAM RITCHARD — “IS JESUS YOUR SOMETHING, OR YOUR EVERYTHING?”
18 November, 2018
Scripture reading: Philippians 3:4-11
This term at Vision Youth we’ve been looking at things that compete with Jesus for our time, attention and affection.
As we’ve read through Philippians 3:4-11, the overarching theme that stands out to me is that for Paul, Jesus was everything. Paul had been imprisoned, beaten, chained and poured out as a drink offering (Phil 2:17) for Jesus’ sake. It cost Paul dearly to follow Jesus. Jesus was not Paul’s “something”, Jesus was Paul’s “everything”.
And so too, I have been asking myself: is Jesus my something, or my everything? And today, I’d like to ask all of us: is Jesus your something, or your everything?
In Eph 2:20, Paul describes Jesus as our cornerstone. A cornerstone is:
“...the first stone set in the construction of a foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure.” - Wikipedia
Is Jesus the first stone set in the construction of the foundation of our lives? Are all other stones of our lives set in reference to Jesus? Is the position of the entire structure of our lives determined by Jesus, our cornerstone?
Where is Jesus in the picture of our lives?
Recently, my mother in law was cleaning out and found a box of old school yearbooks at their home. I was looking for my wife, Steph, in her younger years (before I knew her!)…and look, there was one of Steph’s brothers...and look again, right out there in the corner was Steph’s other brother’s arm, just poking into one of the pictures! You could only see it if you knew to look for it, and even then, it was only an arm!
If we look at the picture of our lives, where is Jesus in that picture? Is he there ‘somewhere’ on the outer fringes, just an arm poking in from the side? Or is he front and centre, where He should be?
As others look at the picture of our lives, do they see Jesus front and centre and would they know that we are followers of Jesus?
Counting everything as loss
The younger Paul (Saul) really had everything going for him as an up-and-coming Pharisee – he had status, he had position, he had a good reputation, he was successful, he was heading onwards and upwards, he was advancing beyond his years and ahead of his contemporaries. At the time, these things were all gain to him, something to be proud of. They were his achievements and successes that proved he had made it!
But, as he writes later as the Apostle Paul, whatever was gain (whatever was once important, those things that brought identity and security that were outside of Christ Jesus) was now counted as loss compared to something infinitely greater – knowing Jesus (Eph 3:8).
There’s something about an encounter with Jesus that changes things, transforms hearts, causes perspectives to shift and priorities to change. For Paul, that moment happened on the Damascus Road as he turned from being chief persecutor of the church to becoming an apostle of Christ Jesus. For the disciples it was in their workplaces - leaving their nets, they left their old way of life to follow Jesus. For Zacchaeus, he left his old life of sin, gave away half of what he owned and paid back four times what he had cheated. And on it goes for Legion, the woman at the well, and so on. Each of these people encountered Jesus, and, upon meeting Him, each of them turned away from their old way of life toward something much more valuable - knowing Him.
Jesus stands at the door and knocks
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus speaks to the church at Laodicea, saying:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (ESV)
Jesus stands at the door of our lives and knocks. He wants to come in, to be the centre, to have His rightful place in our lives. All too often I can let Him in: “Great to see you Jesus…ahh, I’m actually really busy right now… Would you like to just sit in the corner for a moment. Oh, actually not in that room (I don’t want you to see that!)...maybe in this cupboard perhaps? I’ll call you when I need you!”
It’s good for us all to be challenged about which room of our house Jesus occupies. There is no condemnation as we do so, only an invitation to allow Jesus into the very centre of our hearts and lives. In the words of John the Baptist: He must increase (in prominence), but I must decrease….He must become greater, I must become less (John 3:30).
A joy unequaled
When Jesus is the centre of our lives, we exchange what is mediocre and temporal for something far greater – we gain Christ! The word for gain in Phil 3:8 literally means to “exchange what is mediocre for something better; to trade up”. The Amplified version adds: “I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]”. (AMP)
When Jesus becomes our everything, we trade up from even the very best of our achievements to something infinitely greater - the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus. Truly, a joy unequaled.
May we be a people who more and more make Jesus not just our something, but our everything.