Athlete, Jesus is Everything or Nothing
Galatians 5:2 (NIV)
Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
Famed NFL coach Vince Lombardi offered many dogmatic lines. Here is a sampling:
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.”
“The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
“If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.”
“The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender.”
“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
God’s Word launches dramatic, dogmatic lines as well. Galatians 5:2 highlights one. The apostle Paul writes, “If you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.“ That was an everything-or-nothing line, just like Lombardi‘s last line above.
Paul was calling attention to the way people add to the gospel. The Galatian Christians believed that certain practices, like circumcision, become not just the marks of our salvation but the additional means to our salvation.
They were not seeing how doing this impacted Jesus and the gospel. They figured that if one is good (Jesus), two or more must be better (adding other gods, other methods to find favor with God).
Paul argued that each time we add to the gospel (by faith alone in grace alone, through Christ alone), we downsize Jesus, rendering Him less than He really is, not fully able to save. That is an affront to God our Father and insults the Son.
What does it mean to “add to the gospel”? It means we add to Jesus’ justifying work, believing He is not (quite) enough. It means adding other practices to our life to secure our status (like trusting in saints, baptism, church membership/attendance, good works).
Or it means adding other gods to our lives (like money, possessions, approval, power, control), believing they can provide additional safety, security, prosperity.
The bottom line is this – Jesus is everything or He is nothing, Lord of all or not Lord at all. Don’t leave Him in middle ground. His life, death and resurrection matters. His work matters. He is sufficient. He alone saves (Acts 4:12). He is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). Worship the Redeemer-King!
Reflect: How do you functionally see Jesus? What competing voices or practices need to be eliminated so that Christ may have preeminence in you? Would you memorize either of these simple Scriptures to keep you on track — Philippians 3:8 and Colossians 1:18b?
A prayer to consider: LORD, I see surpassing worth in Christ. He is everything. So don’t let me downsize His value by adding anything to the recipe or seeking additional gods to satisfy and save. Keep showing me the idolatry and vanity of all else by your Spirit. To have You is to have enough. Amen.