About Jesus Steve Sweetman
Rather Have Jesus
quick glance at my C D shelves will tell you that whether sacred or
secular, there's not many styles of music I don't like.
I often just sit and listen to a song over and over.
One such song of late is "I'd Rather Have Jesus". (Bill
Gaither Homecoming - "How Great Thou Art", 2007) This
song has got me thinking.
rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
to be the king of a vast domain;
be held in sin's dread sway;
rather have Jesus than anything
world affords today.
rather have Jesus than men's applause;
rather be faithful to His dear cause;
rather have Jesus than world wide fame;
rather be true to His holy name.
believe we're in an era of church history that's predicted in Revelation
3:14-22. The Laodicean
church we seem to be, is wealthy, self sufficient, and unwilling to
suffer for the cause of Christ. I'm
not suggesting we seek poverty or search for ways to suffer.
I'm saying the prevailing Laodicean mentality in church makes it
hard to honestly sing "I'd rather have Jesus".
We might prefer to sing, "I'd like to have Jesus along with
my silver, gold, fame, applause, and the good life".
apostle Paul was climbing the ladder of success in an ecclesiastical
Judaism that differed little from the Laodicean church Jesus was ready
to vomit out of his mouth. (Revelation 3:16)
He was well on his way to the good life until Jesus knocked him
off his ladder.
to this unexpected interruption in Paul's life, Jesus said, "I will
show you how much you must suffer for my name". (Acts 9:16)
I don't know Paul's immediate reaction to this unsettling
statement, but I do know he eventually embraced it.
"Whatever was to my profit I consider a loss for the sake of
Christ … I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing
greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost
all things". (Philippians 3:7-8)
In other words, Paul could honestly sing, "I'd rather have
Jesus". When it came to
Paul's losses, he felt he had little choice in the matter.
"I am compelled to preach, and woe to me if I don't
…" (1 Corinthians 9:16)
wasn't alone in suffering. Most
all believers suffered back then. "The
sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives". (2 Corinthians 1:5)
"All who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer
persecution". (1 Timothy 3:12)
The apostle Peter agreed. "It
is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good ..." (1
suffered things we all suffer. He
got sick. He experienced
environmental disasters. He
suffered financial loss. Beyond
this, he felt the pain as he "faced daily the pressure of his
concern for all of the churches". (2 Corinthians 11:28)
If that wasn't enough, he was persecuted by the Jews, the Romans,
and sad to say, by some Christians.
"Through it all", as Andrae Crouch sang, Paul
"learned to trust in Jesus".
While in damp, rat infested, hell holes of prison cells, he
"learned to be content in all things". (Philippians 4:11-12)
As violent men smashed rocks into his scull and bombarded his
back with stone studded whips, Paul could honestly sing, "I'd
rather have Jesus".
of us in the western church haven't suffered like this because Judeo
Christian thinking has been fundamental to our society's social
consciousness. That's no
longer the case. Sooner or
later, Paul's experience will be our experience.
I question how we will handle this.
To one degree or another, a Laodicean style prosperity gospel has
infected much of the church. Suffering
of any kind is often seen as being outside of God's will.
If that was Biblically true, then Paul was seldom in God's will.
No, "Godly suffering" is the normal Christian
experience. When thinking of
suffering for the cause of Christ, I'm reminded of a Larry Norman song.
are Christians in
they're killed when they're found.
the Christians live up in the hills
it's not safe in the towns.
to think it might happen right here in America,
know you think it's not true,
it's happening to Christians right here in America,
till it happens to you.
Here In America", from his 1971 "Street Level" album,
which I still possess)
Clark sang, "… satan sends his spirits out to battle … if ten
thousand surround me, I won't retreat or try to hide … because the
Lord is here by my side". ("Here
By My Side", from his 1974 album "Come Into His
Presence", which I also still possess)
Norman's lyrics are more relevant now than they were in 1971.
Paul Clark's lyrics are as relevant as they've always been.
Whether because of persecution, satanic attack, or, for various
other reasons, many of us have been suffering financial and material
loss in recent years. This
has afforded us the opportunity to either complain or be content.
So, whatever situation we find ourselves in, Paul's words speak
directly to us. "…consider
everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ
Jesus your Lord". When
we can genuinely embrace these words, we will be able to honestly sing
"I'd rather have Jesus".