Some of the most heartbreaking episodes in my Christian experience have been the occasional encounter with someone who has become disillusioned with the Gospel or defeated in their spiritual life and concluded “Jesus is not enough.” They may say it differently, but that is the reality. Having passed through a particularly difficult event or hardship or test of obedience, these once enthusiastic followers of Jesus were left joyless, crushed, and hopeless. They “tried Jesus,” but found their Savior was unable to fix a broken relationship or absorb their grief or “help” them to “be good enough” in the Christian life.
What does it look like in a life where Jesus isn’t enough? Some will grasp for self-help resources and remedies for their problems. Others blame the people in their life or the church. A very few will quietly withdraw. In the end, they turn away from Jesus because He wasn’t there for them in their time of need.
Years ago, I got together with a group of men before work each Tuesday morning to enjoy a great cup of coffee, friendship, and the discussion of a good book. One of those books John Piper’s bestseller The Pleasures of God. The book was rich and devotional, launching us into many good conversations about the ways in which Jesus is not only adequate for those moments of disillusionment and despair we encounter in the Christian life, but super-adequate, in the words of one old friend. John Piper digs down to the source of this kind of disquiet in a wounded soul and quarries out the ways in which Jesus can be, not only enough but more than enough to carry us through any situation:
Here we see the key to the triumph of obedience over disobedience. The key is confidence that what Christ offers is better than the ‘fleeting pleasures of sin.’ Moses looked to the reward of God’s promises, he weighed that against the rewards of unrighteousness, and he rested satisfied in God… The writer of Hebrews calls this liberating contentment “faith”… The definition of faith behind this usage is given in Hebrews 11:1: ‘Faith is the assurance of things hoped for.’ In other words, faith is the satisfied assurance that God will work things out in the future far better than I could work them out by relying on myself or by departing from the path of obedience – even if obedience means suffering now. Being satisfied with all that God is for me in Christ – past, present, and future – is the power to resist the alluring temptations of disobedience.The Pleasures of God
What is the malady that can move a once vibrant, happy Christian to conclude that there must be something more or better out there — that Jesus simply isn’t enough? Unbelief.
What’s the antidote to unbelief? A simple faith in Jesus and what He’s done in the Gospel provides the “liberating contentment” that will enable you and me to live a life that pleases God. Trusting in Christ brings that “satisfied assurance” that God has put His Spirit in me and He has my best interests at heart, even when I am under intense pressure or suffering beyond my capacity to endure. Finding our complete pleasure and satisfaction in Jesus is the power behind our ability to resist the baubles and trinkets that will pass away in a moment at His coming. In other words, Jesus is more than enough for any and all situations we face in this life.
If you find yourself wondering if Jesus really is enough… if He really can deliver on the promises you embraced at some time in the past, turn from your own self-savior project and trust in Jesus. Ask Him to be the Lord of your life, to meet your every need, and to reveal Himself to you, as He does in Psalm 16:11. Then you can join David in singing:
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalms 16:11Psalm 16:11