For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14–15)
We are called to more than living for ourselves.
There is glory here — great glory — in the fact that we’re invited into something bigger than merely existing as little ol’ you and me.
As C. S. Lewis said, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal.” We are people with souls, and souls are big. We were made for eternity, designed with an appetite as incredible as the universe.
Made His Forever
Me-centered individualism, or living for ourselves, is directly against God’s purpose for humans — and therefore, it’s against our everlasting good. The essence of sin, as Luther says it, is to be turned in on oneself. It is to be caught up in the snare of me, myself, and I — that bottomless pit of all quest, but no discovery; all thirst, but no quench; all appetite, but no fill. There is no question why Jesus saves us from it.
And he does save us from it.
To be sure, Jesus is about more than only forgiving sins and giving us a right standing before God. He doesn’t do that to just do that. It’s not a divine pat on the head, or a bodda bing, bodda boom kind of task.
Jesus died for us and was raised, as 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, so that we would not be all about ourselves anymore, but that we’d live for him. Jesus’s death and resurrection is a glorious means to an even more glorious reality — that we would belong to him forever, that we would be welcomed into his fellowship, that we will be where he is, that we would share his heart for the world. He died and was raised so that we would follow him.
Compelled by Love
When our eyes are opened to the glory of Jesus — when we’ve tasted and seen that the Lord indeed is good — we can say with glad sincerity: “Where you go, I’ll go.” We can say it and mean it, spoken from a heart compelled by God’s love, not pressured into impressing God for his favor. We follow because he’s good, not us.
The wondrous response to follow Jesus isn’t a cle nched-fist zeal or a self-determined resolution. It’s the anthem of a heart captivated by grace. It’s more the evidence of his work in our lives than our actions for his sake.
Matter of fact, to sing “I will follow you” actually says more about Jesus, the one we follow, than it does about us, the followers themselves. Following Jesus doesn’t applaud our spirituality, but it glorifies his worth. It doesn’t commend our virtue, but it highlights his majesty. It’s all about him. It’s because he alone is all that we could ever need. It’s because he is life everlasting. He is freedom for our souls. He is joy forevermore.
Because of who Jesus is — because he died and was raised — we will follow him.
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD rrrrrand to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
There is one sure way to test what we treasure. Take it away.
Think about two or three things that you could not live without. It’s probably your spouse or children, if you have a family. It might be your job, if you love your job. It could be something as simple as coffee or the gym or Chipotle or the outdoors or shopping or sports. There are things we learn to need in this life, and we “need” them because of how much we enjoy them, because of how much we treasure them.
Satisfaction Without Safety
Psalm 27 is a psalm of longing after the Lord. You can feel the writer’s affection and desire throughout the thirteen verses (Psalm 27:4, 7–8, 13–14). These cries for more of God, though, come not in a typical, comfortable worship service, but in the context of desperation and oppression. David is surrounded by his enemies. He’s threatened on every side. Comfort, safety, and freedom — treasures for most of us — have been stripped away as he’s being chased and opposed everywhere he turns and everywhere he hides.
Fortunately, David’s heart — his treasure — didn’t rest in his circumstances here on earth. Even while he faced evil enemies more powerful than him and his army, he had his eyes set on one thing, and one thing alone. “One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple” (Psalm 27:4). He knew what he wanted most — to see the beauty of God in his presence — and that clarity allowed him to let go of all kinds of things here and now.
And in this longing — again threatened on every side — he saw beyond his enemies and was actually able to celebrate in hope. “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!” (Psalm 27:13). So this wasn’t just a matter of what David wanted. He knew that his God would deliver him through every battle before him. He fled and fought for his life in the confidence that he would live forever with his Heavenly Father, enjoying his infinite goodness without end. He would have his treasure.
Our Greatest Craving
The chorus of this song — and the chorus of Psalm 27 — says that the biggest, deepest craving we have is for God. The cry of every human heart is for the beauty of it’s Creator. He — God — is the only true source of lasting safety and satisfaction. Everything else, even the most precious people in our lives, will eventually pass away, but he and his goodness endure forever. Our greatest hope is knowing that we will stand before his face, fixated on his beauty, and — because he is so incredibly beautiful — never being able to see all of him in his fullness.
Do you find yourself needing God when time with him is taken away? When you haven’t been in his word or in prayer, is your heart pleading for more of him? Have your appetites and desires been shaped by what you believe about him? If God is more beautiful than anything or anyone, if he really is enough to satisfy us forever, we should be developing deeper and deeper cravings for him all the time. Ask him to show you more of himself now so that you’ll long more for the day when you will see him face to face.
“Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” (Psalm 27:14).