Most of us are familiar with Michael W. Smith’s “Agnus Dei.” For as long as I’ve sung this song, the lyric “Are you Lord God Almighty?” has provoked me to think about how much of my life is truly given over to God.
Is God really my ALL IN ALL? I think that for those of us who are blessed to live in the Western world, it is difficult to separate God from the material possessions that become idols to us. We think of God as the one who:
Supplies all of our needs according to His riches in glory
Gives as we give, pressed down, shaken together and running over
Wants us to prosper and be in good health even as our soul prospers
Rejoices in the prosperity of His children
Is the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills and owns all the silver and gold
Will not withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly
And these are off the top of my head—I’m sure there are many more examples. They are all Scriptural and true. But I believe we have the impossible task of separating the gifts from the Giver. We live in a culture that teaches us that the more we have, the better our lives are. And the more designer labels we accumulate, the better people we must be. If we tithe, the Lord will truly bless us with more of these material things we can’t seem to live without.
But what if life took away everything that we hold dear? How would we manage if we were in Job’s shoes? Could we, like him, continue to worship the Lord?
If God is truly my all in all, then if everything else is stripped away, and He is all I have left, I’m okay! I’ve said this to a number of people—churched people, in the past few weeks as I’ve meditated on this. (And in these few weeks, much of what I thought was sure and secure in my life has been stripped away, including my job and ministry.) More times than I’ve liked, the response has been one like, “Yes, because if everything is stripped away, He will return it 7-fold,” or “He will take care of you,” or “He will provide…” And this is exactly what I do NOT mean.
And it is not that I’m okay because He will take care of me, because He will never let me be put to shame, because He is my provider…if this is my attitude, then it’s not about HIM, it’s about ME. I must know that if I never have anything but Him for the rest of my life, that’s enough because HE is my all sufficiency, my delight, my all in all! Not because of what He can or will do, but because He is. Period.
I have meditated on these things as I drive my nice car to my nice home to eat my nice dinner. But the reality of what I’m saying was revealed in its beauty as I listened to Bebo Norman give a testimony at a recent concert. He spoke of a man who I believe lived in Tanzania in a hut made of cow manure. The man was asked, “If you could have anything, what would it be?” The man thought but seemed not to be able to answer this question. He finally responded, “I and my family have Jesus Christ. We do not need anything else.”
I still cannot completely wrap my mind around the simplicity of needing NOTHING else but Jesus. However, I dearly desire to be at the place where I can sincerely say that I have Jesus Christ and I do not need anything else.