In a world of secrets, outward success is everyone’s goal. If we can just succeed, we won’t have to face ourselves. No wonder that doesn’t work. It can’t work. The reality of what we are will always topple this house-of-cards persona we so earnestly wish were true.
The gospel is not God’s way of giving us an even better self-improvement goal. The gospel is God’s judgment on our better selves and his replacement of it all with Jesus.
Every one of us thinks, “If only I could do __________ or be __________, then I would arrive.” So, what does “arrival” look like to you? If it isn’t Jesus, the risen Lord himself, every arrival you achieve is only another set-back.
If you make financial security your arrival, you are already trapped in anxiety. If you make a thin body your identity, you will hate yourself more. If you make a porn-free life your okayness, you are doomed to compulsion. God’s remedy for you is not more money or better looks or perfect control. God’s gift to you is Jesus. With Jesus, we are saved. Everything is going to be okay. Without Jesus, we are damned. Nothing will go right.
Forsake all fraudulent success. Make Jesus your goal, your arrival, your identity, your comfort, your okayness, and he’ll gladly give himself to you — and on terms of grace. But reach for anything else, and it will turn into its opposite and betray you.
To paraphrase the apostle Paul, “I’ve lost everything, and I don’t even care, because now I get Jesus” (Philippians 3:8).