Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Reflections on Redemption: Part 3

3.  Jesus plus Nothing equals Everything.

Let that sink in for a minute.

To have everything in life, I need Jesus.  Just Jesus.  What does that mean?

It means I don't put my hope for life, love, happiness, or salvation in anything but Jesus.  Where do I tend to look for ultimate joy?  Usually myself, others, or in systems.  The irony is that I'll never make myself happy; I'm too unpredictable, unreliable, and unable to to understand my own heart.  Others will never fulfill my needs the way I want; they are broken people too.  Systems will eventually fail me somehow- systems such as the latest and greatest how-to books, seminars, counseling, accountability, Bible studies, even Redemption groups!  None of those things will give me freedom from my idols, or lasting joy and satisfaction.  The only thing that will satisfy is Jesus.  Just Jesus.

When I look to anything but Jesus for life, I am basically saying that I love these things more than Jesus.  Because idolatry is essentially about what I love, the only way I can really remove those idols is to change who I love.  Thomas Chalmers put it this way: "The only way to dispossess the heart of an old affection is by the expulsive power of a new one."  In other words, I can't white-knuckle my way out of idol worship.  My heart will do what it loves.  What the heart loves, the will chooses, the mind justifies.  If I love someone or something more than Jesus, I'll always make excuses for why I need to worship it.  The only way for lasting change is to replace what my heart loves.  I must love Jesus more than my idols to be free from the idols.

Questions:  Do I really love Jesus?  Or do I treat him as a means to an end?  Do I come to him looking for answers to prayers and for ways out of hard circumstances, rather than just coming to him to spend time with him?  Do I treat Jesus like I'm in a marriage without joy?  Or does my heart have a great affection for him- not just for what he has done for me, but simply for who he is?

At the cross, Jesus took my slavery to my idols and the punishment I deserved for it.  I am guilty for what I've done, for how I've worshipped other idols, but Jesus bought my guilt at the cross.  I am no longer defined by my idols, and I am no longer under their control.  I will never be able to repay God for what He did for me through Jesus' death.  When I begin to grasp how incredible that love is, love that is purely sacrificial toward the beloved without expectation of reciprocity or earned deservedness, I will begin to fall in love with Jesus.  I will begin to behold him more than the dead idols I've chosen instead, and I will start to taste and see that Jesus plus nothing truly equals everything.