Monday, January 2, 2012

Because He's Worth It: Jesus And Nothing Else

Jesus + Nothing = Everything, by Tullian Tchividjian
       I was given a book by my roommate Paulman as a Christmas present. It was not one that I had heard of before, thought I had once caught a glimpse of his personal copy lying next to his computer in the living room - a simple black cover, with the title in red  and white lettering. At the time, it didn't evoke more than just a casual and passing glimpse from me. Christmas came and went, and it was carefully placed among the other books in my little library, for later reading. But I am suddenly in haste to read it now, and finish it today if I can; it has become an important and urgent priority. It is written by a pastor named Tullian Tchividjian, and it's title is a simple statement, written in the form of a mathematical equation: 

    Why the urgency? Two events happened yesterday that brought this to the forefront.

    The first was a casual phone call from someone that I'm close to that began well, but ended leaving me feeling uncomfortable and agitated, even angry. I still feel that familiar, tight feeling in the chest when I'm upset as I write this several hours later, and I know why. I didn't like what I heard, because it touched a raw nerve - the sensitive and conflicted area of my ongoing struggle to carefully think through my experiences with teaching and doctrine amongst different Churches that I have been through. It reminded me that this is an urgent and important issue for me to resolve, and provided fresh impetus to revisit the foundations of my faith and focus on the Gospel as a starting point.

    The second was an examination of my heart during my quiet time this morning as I formulated my priorities, my "first things" for this year, and how I would like to live the next twelve months. I know what I want for 2012. I want to make this a year of systematic seeking for truth in my faith, especially in terms of understanding and differentiating between right and wrong doctrine. I want to explore two foundational elements of my faith in greater depth, which I believe I must stay riveted on in order to make sense of everything else - Christ, and His Gospel.

    Stephen R. Covey, an expert in leadership development, made a statement in his book "First Things First" that has stayed with me: "The main thing in life is to keep the main thing the main thing." Some weeks ago, I wrote a post titled "To Follow Jesus All The Way", in which I quoted from the poem "My Choice" by martyred missionary William McChesney. I'm posting the whole poem here, because I believe it is very relevant to the "main thing" for this year. This is what it says:


     I want my breakfast served at eight
     With ham and eggs upon the plate
     A well-broiled steak I'll eat at one
     And dine again when day is done.

     I want an ultramodern home
     And in each room a telephone;
     Soft carpets, too, upon the floors
     And pretty drapes to grace the doors.
     A cozy place of lovely things,
     Like easy chairs with inner springs,

     And then, I'll get a nice T.V.
     - Of course, I'm careful what I see.

     I want my wardrobe, too, to be
     Of neatest, finest quality,
     With latest style in suit and vest
     Why should not Christians have the best?

     But then the Master I can hear
     In no uncertain voice, so clear:
     "I bid you come and follow Me,
     The lowly Man of Galilee."

     "Birds of the air have made their nest
     And foxes in their holes find rest,
     But I can offer you no bed;
     No place have I to lay my head."

     In shame I hung my head and cried,
     How could I spurn the Crucified?
     Could I forget the way He went,
     The sleepless nights in prayer He spent?

     For forty days without a bite,
     Alone He fasted day and night;
     Despised, rejected - on He went,
     and did not stop till veil He rent!

     A man of sorrows and of grief
     No earthly friend to bring relief;
     "Smitten of God," the prophet said
     Mocked, beaten, bruised, His blood ran red.
     If He be God, and died for me,
     No sacrifice too great can be
     For me; a mortal man, to make;
     I'll do it all for Jesus' sake.

     Yes, I will tread the path He trod,
     No other way will please my God,
     So, henceforth, this my choice shall be,
     My choice for all eternity.
- William McChesney

      I have the feeling that this is going to be a very intense, challenging, but ultimately rewarding year. I'm going to do this. By His grace alone. For Christ alone. For His Gospel alone. For His glory alone. Because He's Jesus, and He's worth it. See you in the next post!

     Grace and peace to you.
- The Wisdom Seeker