According to the world’s reckoning I was a gentleman, the son of a decurion. I have sold my patrimony, without shame or regret, for the benefit of others. In short, I serve Christ on behalf of a foreign people for the ineffable glory of life everlasting which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
- Patrick, Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus, Irish, 5th century
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…
- Philippians 3.8
The view among many Christians these days is that the life of faith is all about getting something from Jesus. Peace. Assurance. Forgiveness. Eternal life. New friends. Maybe even excellent health and sufficient wealth to make us happy.
Among many, the view of what it means to be a Christian is, come to Jesus and get what you want. Or at least, what you need.
Jesus, this view has it, is in the meet-your-needs-business; and all you have to do is ask. Because Jesus is all about you. Listen to the prayer requests and praises offered in your prayer meetings. Aren’t they all about me and mine, what Jesus did for me, and almost nothing about the Kingdom and glory of God?
This is also how we position the Lord before the world. Come to Jesus; He’ll meet your needs, right here in our church. But the world understands pretty well that the needs it’s pursuing, Jesus won’t supply. Besides, they’re already satisfying those needs along other, less demanding routes.
Contrast this with Paul’s and Patrick’s teaching and example. Come to Jesus and give everything up for Him. Come to Jesus and die to yourself and the world. Lose the world and its fleeting, frivolous pleasures, its paltry expectations and materialistic hopes, and gain the glorious Son of God forever.
Of course, there’s truth to the idea that Jesus meets our needs. But we do not come to Jesus in order to gain from Him whatever we think might make us happy. We come to Jesus to gain Him, for we find in Him the satisfaction of all our desires, the comfort and strength for every trial, and the peace and joy that no amount of adversity or disappointment can dislodge.
But this only happens as we come to Him and die. Deny ourselves. Take up our cross. Count all things as loss. Esteem others better than ourselves. Become the servant of all. Stand boldly in His Name before detractors, skeptics, and persecutors.
You get the idea.
Unless we are willing to give up every aspiration, every prospect, every possession, every moment of our time – all that we are and have that we think we need above all else – for the sake of gaining Jesus, it’s questionable whether we have really understood the nature of His call to follow Him.
A good many people have come to Jesus with the wrong motives, seeking things from Him, rather than Him. I’m convinced this is why many Christians seem to be so dull, bored, lifeless, and unenthused about following Jesus. They already have most of what they want from Him, and if that changes, they’ll let Him know. Their Christian lives are unreal and confused, compared with Paul and Patrick, because they are seeking the things of life rather than the King of Life.
Patrick knew about giving it all up for Jesus. He went to Ireland against the wishes of his family and without the blessing of his Church. He paid his way with his own inheritance, and trusted the Lord for everything.
Paul knew about giving everything up for Jesus. He was a rising star in the Jewish Sanhedrin, yet he became an outcast and a criminal in the minds of his former peers, all because he chose to live for Christ.
What do we know, really? Give it all up and lay it all down? Or hold as tightly as we can to the things of this world, and add a little Jesus just for good measure? For when I need something else?
As you come to prayer, pause in silence, and listen until you hear the voice of Jesus asking, “What do you seek?” (Jn. 1.38) If you’re seeking to gain anything from Jesus, anything you think you need from Him to make you happy or at peace, you’re asking Him to hand you an idol. Seek to gain Jesus, lose your idolatrous aspirations and trite treasures, and He’ll give you everything in Himself.
1. What does it mean to gain Jesus?
2. How can the things of this world keep us from gaining Jesus?
Psalm 23.1-4 (The Gift of Love: Though I May Speak with Bravest Fire)
Because the Lord my Shepherd is, I shall not want, for I am His!
He makes me lie in pastures full; I rest in Him by waters still.
My soul He quickens and will bless; He leads in paths of righteousness.
Though I may walk in death’s dark vale, I shall not fear – He will not fail!
Am I seeking You, Lord, or merely something from You? Help me today to…
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Da Paor, pp. 110, 111.