“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” Philippians 3:7-8
Be careful that you don’t view your life as transactional. What can my wife or my husband do for me? What can God do for me today? What can my church do for me? What do I do for them?
Life is not deeds devoid of relationship.
I visited a colleague’s son’s church while on a retreat in North Carolina. Chris Dillon, lead pastor, warned each of us against a “genie-in-a-bottle” Jesus. He cautioned us against a “tooth-fairy” Jesus. He stated frankly and correctly, “We come to Jesus to get Jesus. He is our highest treasure.” He gives himself not solely his gifts.
Chris, who was just beginning a series on the parables of Jesus, was preaching about the “sower and the dirt” as he called it. When he got to the third soil, we read the following passage:
“As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” Matthew 13:22
Beware of cares and riches. They are deceptive. Are we tempted to come to Jesus for what he does and not who he is? Are we tempted to focus on the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches? Do I choose Jesus for what he does for me? Do I come to him for things? For stuff?
Deeper still, do I expect him to embrace me for what I do for him? We do not come to him for what he does for us nor should we expect to be accepted by him for what we do.
This is especially important when facing loss.
“On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’” Matthew 7:22
Indeed, it’s not what we do for him. Even mighty deeds. There are no works we could ever do that would qualify us to be redeemed in his sight. Even casting out demons. This line of thinking is an affront to the gospel. It’s an affront to the Son of God who gave his life to redeem us. He gave his life to us and not just his deeds done for us.
“And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” Matthew 7:23
His is a serious declaration: Deeds over relationship is lawlessness. If I come to Jesus based on works and not relationship, I come empty-handed in his economy. He died to bring us into a relationship with himself. True companionship. God came to walk with us not for us.
“…and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” Matthew 1:23
God with us. Relationship. Companionship. With us.
Not a genie or a tooth fairy. Not simply for us. He is not our employee nor our servant. Even in the face of loss.
And this makes sense. Relationship, as a higher value, is true in the blessed marriage I enjoyed, and it’s more true and still deeper in my relationship with Jesus. Jesus told us that the greater, deeper, and truer value is in knowing him.
Deeds over relationship is lawlessness.
“This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Matthew 5:32