Christ is enough for me…Christ is enough for me…Everything I need is in You…Everything I need…
What do we mean when we sing these words? Do we soak in their meaning and consider the weight of what they are saying, and then sing them out in humble admittance and glorious recognition? Or do we sing them merely because they are the words that are on the screen, and since the melody is familiar to us we find no fault in harmonizing?
Perhaps neither. Perhaps you find yourself somewhere in the middle. The words ring vaguely true in your head, but in reality you are focused on the errands you have to run after church or perhaps taking notice of the elegant pattern-work and stitching in the suit coat of the church member sitting in the pew ahead of you. Perhaps you know these words to be true, but you have heard them sung so often that they have lost their meaning.
Christ my all in all…The joy of my salvation…And this hope will never fail…Heaven is our home…
Do you truly take in what these words proclaim? I fear that we, at large, have missed their meaning. Here we sing this hymn as people flood through the doors, but come the end of the sermon the pastor questions, “Do you know today that you are going to heaven when you die?” What? I thought we just sang that heaven was our home, here and now. Is not the kingdom of heaven here? Jesus seems to think so (Lk 17:21). So why do we ask if we are going to heaven when we die? Is it a good litmus test? Of course, but in the end, what does heaven truly matter, if at all? Don’t get me wrong, I look greatly forward to the day that I can stand with my Savior face-to-face (moments before I fall to my face in worship), but in asking this question, are we making the chief end of our salvation the eternal life that we gain? To be sure, eternal life is a by-product of our faith and we will be in heaven once we pass away from this earth, but is that the question that should be our driving factor in bringing people to Christ?
Let me rephrase my question. Why do you follow Jesus Christ? I am afraid that many people would say, “I follow Jesus Christ so that I might get to heaven,” and they would be justified in claiming such nonsense because that is, quite often, what our churches have led them to believe is the chief end of man. Heaven has become the cookie we offer to the starving children in our pews, and they find themselves drooling at the concept of life without death. But if this is their motivation for following Christ, does that make them any different than those who followed him purely because they wanted the food He could provide (Jn 6:26)? If we follow Christ for the eternal life freely given, does that not make our very following of Him selfish, and therefore sinful? The logical progression of this question would be, How can fallen man and holy God be reunited through sinful desire? There must be another way.
And we find it in the lyrics of that beloved hymn. Christ is enough for me. Christ is enough for me. Whenever you see things repeated in the Bible, it is because the point being made is especially important; I see it no different here. Think of what these words mean. CHRIST – that is, the Son of the Father, unified with the Father and the Spirit, God having taken on flesh when He was born of a virgin, lived the perfect life, suffered and died, resurrected and ascended; IS – the third-person, present-tense form of be, signifying that the subject at hand displays the qualifying attribute at that present moment; ENOUGH – a quantity that can fill something as much as it can possibly be filled, take something as far as it can possible be taken, make something that which it was meant to be, so that is lacks nothing; FOR – a preposition that ties two things together, linking them inseparably in the given context; ME – the person who sings those lyrics with true and full understanding, that person who has truly grasped the fullness of Christ.
Do you see? Christ is enough. Period. No additions, no subtractions. In Jesus Christ, we experience everything we could possibly ever need. Do we receive eternal life as a reward of our discipleship? Yes, but this should not be the reason that we follow. I propose this: Even if eternal life were taken out of the picture and even if the moment I took my last breath on earth was the final moment of my very existence, Christ would still be enough. He would still be my Lord. He would still be worth serving.
The greatest gift of salvation, is not heaven, but the Savior Himself. Christ is the greatest reward.
Christ is my all in all, the joy of my salvation. Do you see? Christ is ALL – he is everything we need! We need no more than Him. If He is all there is, then that would surely be enough; we needn’t even one thing more. It is Christ, not heaven, that brings us JOY in salvation. What is joy? I think C.S. Lewis defines it best: “that [quality] of an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction.” Even if there was no chief satisfaction to our desire (which, thankfully, there is both in heaven and here and now, on earth), Christ would still be the source of our joy, for better is a single moment in His presence than an entire millennium of life in a world where He is not. I shudder to even consider the possibility.
When we reach yet another lyric in the hymn, we see another interesting paradox for those who sing it mindlessly. I have decided to follow Jesus…No turning back…No turning back. Once again we see that repetition – this is important. Why should we not turn back? If eternal life is our chief goal, then what reasons do we have for not turning back here and now, while we are still stuck in this world? Sure, my point from before could be made – that heaven is here on earth, even if not yet physically – but why not sacrifice our discipleship for the lusts of the flesh? If our salvation has already been attained (another debate for another day), why not live in the world until the day that we die, and then ascend to the divine party in the sky? Why should we repeatedly say No turning back, no turning back! I have already “prayed the prayer,” I have already “asked Him to come into my life,” so why should I not turn back and simply repent in my final moments? Need I even repent at all? I have already earned the heaven which our pastors preach about – they told me that since I prayed the prayer, Christ is in me – so why should I go on serving? I have already settled my salvation!
Do you see the flaws in this argument? When our chief goal is heaven, we have no purpose to live a holy life on earth. Why do you think that there is so much darkness within the world, despite Christianity being one of the world’s top three religions? It is because our congregations have a false view of the faith! They think that the greatest thing to be gained from faith in Jesus Christ is eternal life, which both undersells Christ and lays a foundation of sand on which you are trying to build a church.
Yes, Christ gave us life, but the greatest thing He gave us was Himself.
Christ Himself is the greatest thing we gain from salvation. Forget heaven for a moment, and just think of the man. The Son. God Himself, having no personal obligation nor logical reason for doing so, willingly sacrificed Himself to save a broken and fallen people who consistently reject and turn away from Him. Why would you not want to serve a Lord such as this? This is why we do not turn back! This is why we follow and follow and follow, never turning back and never turning back. Not because of what we get from the trade-off, but because of the fact that He was willing to do the trade.
When we follow Christ for Christ Himself, true light will be shed in and on the world. We will shine so bright that no cloud will dare step in our way. When we recognize that He is enough, that He is our joy, that He is our all, then what more is there to be gained? Heaven is just extra, something unwarranted yet still received, for Christ always goes above and beyond. When He promised us abundant life and life to the full (Jn 10:10), He was not suggesting that He would stop there, though He very well could have. No, once He has filled our cups to the brim, don’t you know that He will keep pouring into us, so that we have more than we could ever need? He gives us so much that life on earth itself would not provide us with enough time to soak it all in; eternity becomes necessary in order to truly appreciate and experience all of the glorious and abundant gifts He has given. As the psalmist says, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Ps 23:5).
Christ did not come so that your life could merely be filled; no, He came so that your life would be overflowing. Christ truly is enough, so in merely receiving Him, your life will be full. Eternal life in heaven? That’s just extra. The benefits and blessings that come from discipleship? Even more. The freedom and joy and liberty that comes from His victory over death, and our ability to enjoy the kingdom of heaven “here and now,” rather than waiting until we take our last earthly breath? These are all just examples of our loving God going above and beyond.
Embrace it. Soak it in. The cross before me…the world behind me…no turning back…no turning back. Look to Christ and be filled. Do not follow Him for the fulfillment or for anything to be gained, but follow Him purely because that is the only logical thing a person can do when they have experienced that much grace.
Follow Christ for Christ. He is our greatest reward. He is beyond anything you could have ever imagined. He is the other end of this divine romance. He is our goal. He is our chief end.
He is enough.