Here’s the deal: As a pastor, I’m constantly speaking with people about how they aren’t where they want to be in their faith. They can’t figure out why they keep running to the same sins, why they keep struggling in their quiet time, or why they don’t pray as much as they think they ought to. Inevitably, as I inquire about their soul and ask them about their habits, goals, and worries, I find something—something quiet and unnoticed. It is this very thing that tends to derail their spiritual lives and lends to a lack of spiritual fervor and power. It is a simple plus.
They love Jesus and profess that He is their Lord, God, Savior, and Redeemer. They adhere to the creeds of old and can agree with our statement of faith, but there is a plus in their spiritual life. What do I mean? They have added something to their hope. They have added something to their spiritual equation: Jesus = Everything. There are books and sermons that talk about this equation; it isn’t new, yet we keep adding to the equation. This is a distraction in our faith, an idol, or something that takes our eyes off Jesus, not even a little. Ultimately, we have made it: Jesus + Something = Everything.
This something might be a hope, a goal, a worry. It can be our kids, business, loneliness, marriage, health, hobbies, or anything else we put our hope in.
My wife and I walked through a years-long battle with infertility before our son was born. Throughout that difficult and painful season, I found myself drifting toward a plus mentality. While I wanted a good thing, a baby, it started to become what I hoped for. If the Lord blessed me with a child, then I would be fulfilled and happy. The problem is, a child was never guaranteed and for many years, never came. My plus was yielding nothing. The equation was turning out to be Jesus + Baby = Hopeless.
That’s the problem, though, isn’t it? Even when we deeply desire good things, if they get either in the way of our trust in Jesus or are “simply” added to our faith, they automatically crowd out the Lord in our life. It clings to our souls and takes up every square inch of our hearts. To get back to our simple faith, we need to lay these pluses aside.
Hebrews 12:1–2 states: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”
This is the equation we need to follow: Jesus + Nothing = Everything.
When I realized this, my hope skyrocketed. I still desired a child, but my hope was purely in Jesus. Baby or not, I still had the Lord, and He was still everything to me. That is unshakeable, that is situation proof, and that is power in our faith.
Our battle with infertility took many more months and years, but throughout the entirety of the struggle, Jesus was there. He kept us going and lifted our heads when they fell. He was our Good Shepherd, He was our ultimate hope, and even if we never attained our earthly goals, we had our heavenly joy that abounded.
Beloved, let us lay aside every weight, every hope, desire, joy, failure, goal, and any other idol we can find, and let us fix our eyes on Jesus. That is where our attention needs to be—undistracted, unrelenting, and unmoving. If we can do that and truly make Jesus our every goal, then we will gain everything in Christ.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything
Shea Campus Pastor