By: Dr. Fred Van Gorkom, Africa Regional Director
Is Jesus enough?
God had given peace in the land, and Joshua was getting old, so he called all the leaders of Israel together and challenged them. It’s the same challenge for us today.
Serve the Lord! Otherwise, choose who you are going to serve—whether the gods your forefathers served, or the gods of the culture and place where you live now. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Fredaphrase, Josh 24)
You and I are serving someone: the living God or our own gods… gods of food, comfort, sex, security, entertainment, power, position, self-reliance, even the god of Me. Who do you serve?
The people answered, “It was God who brought us out of slavery. We will serve Him too!” Sounds good. Would you affirm them for such a good answer?
Joshua didn’t. He challenged them with God’s holiness and jealousy—after all, He who made us and cares for us and gives us our very breath deserves all worship! God doesn’t want to be just the first among many—he wants to be our One-And-Only. Think of it this way: does a spouse want to be the #1 favorite among many, or the one and only, period?! Same for God.
Is Jesus enough? The people said he was, so Joshua challenged them to put away their idols. It’s the same challenge for us today. Do we serve God, or other gods? If we serve God, do we serve God only, or do we serve God AND… ?
But after Joshua passed away, “a generation grew up who knew neither the Lord, nor what He had done…” (Judges 2:10) The gods made a comeback. By the time of Elijah, the people served Baal, a statue supposed to give food, fertility, rain. So God shut off the rain (1 Kings 18).
Elijah went up Mt Carmel—remember the story? He asked the people the same question Joshua had asked. “Choose: if the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is god, follow him.”
But this time the people were silent. No answer. Why? I think it is because they wanted both, whichever god would get them what they wanted. Food, for example. Same for us?
Jesus fed over 5,000 people with a boy’s lunch; so naturally the people wanted to make Him king! He told them, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…” (John 6) They wanted manna. He said, “I am the bread of life…” i.e. “I am enough.” They left Him. For them, Jesus was not enough, unless He comes with food.
Pondering these things, I read this week about believers in Pakistan. Believers who get passed over for job advancement or unjustly fired. Some are murdered. Homes are destroyed. Young ladies are kidnapped and sold for sex trafficking. Some believers are enslaved in the brick kilns, with no hope of freedom. Is Jesus enough for them? What if I had been born there?
It’s easy to say that I’ll follow Jesus in all the comforts and security of America. Jesus and food, Jesus and house, Jesus and a job, Jesus and entertainment, cars, education, health. Jesus and churches—where you don’t have to huddle and whisper for fear of being discovered, where the music is loud and fearless. “Jesus and …” is easy. Thank you Lord for America!
But have these become idols in my heart? Would Jesus still be enough for me if I lived in Pakistan, and my Dad was murdered for his faith, my sisters were kidnapped for prostitution, and my home was burned to the ground? Would He be enough if I was a destitute slave working 15 hours every day shoveling mud into brick molds, and pushing dried bricks into blazing hot kilns?
Would I still serve Him if I had no medical care, the police were corrupt, I couldn’t read, didn’t have a Bible anyway, and no believers around to encourage me? Would Jesus still be enough then? Would I serve Him even if it cost me everything? Or do I serve Him because it’s easy? Am I just serving God in America, or would I serve Him in a place like Pakistan?
All I know is that God faithfully gives sufficient grace for what He brings us to. My confidence rests in Him, not in me. Jesus one-and-only, not Jesus #1 of many other gods.
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