Monday, March 11, 2013

Jesus Is Better

"For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere..." - Psalm 84:10

Have you ever stood in line for a good deal on Black Friday? What about hours of driving to see your favorite band? Or ditched your friends to hang out with that special person of interest? ;) We always make sacrifices for the things we believe are better. But how does this apply with Jesus and our fight against sin?

The Sons of Korah were the authors of Psalm 84, and this psalm presents a shocking claim that gives us power to fight our sin in a new way. They boldly proclaim in verse 10, "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness." Do you see that key word? BETTER. And the comparison is meant to be staggering. Just ONE day with God is BETTER than a THOUSAND days anywhere else. 

Let's look at a few other parts of Psalm 84 to get some context. Look at the passionate desire that the song writers have for the Lord in verse 12, "My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God." Woah! That's some serious desire! Look also at verse 4, "Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise!" Another translation of that word blessed is "happy", it's the same idea that Jesus uses in Matthew 5, commonly known as the Beatitudes. So they're saying, "HAPPY are those who hang out at your place Lord!" 

Why are these folks SO happy in God? How can WE be this happy in God? Let's consider some real-life comparisons of how Jesus really is better:
  • Jesus is better... than a spouse, in any comparison possible: love, commitment, beauty, soul-satisfaction, power, gentleness, provision, protection, intimacy. Marriage itself is just a parable of the deeper intimacy and commitment of Christ to His bride (Ephesians 5:32).
  • Jesus is better... than the pleasures of sex. An orgasm lasts for a few seconds, but in the Lord's presence there is fullness of joy and pleasures FOREVER (Psalm 16:11)
  • Jesus is better... than the comfort of food. Chocolate cake cannot minister grace to our souls (Hebrews 13:9), a bag of Cheetos cannot comfort our loneliness, and a beer cannot relieve the worry in our hearts. And yet Jesus is FULL of grace (John 1:14), draws near to the broken-hearted (Psalm 34:18), and guards your heart with peace (Philippians 4:6-7).
  • Jesus is better... than the relief of cutting. Jesus brings a better comfort to your soul (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), and HE has already bled FOR you, to purchase justification before God (Romans 5:9) and redemption (Ephesians 1:7) as a new creation in Christ. 
  • Jesus is better... than the approval of performance. Honestly your performance SUCKS (Isaiah 64:6), and Jesus' performance is PERFECT (Romans 10:4), so in Christ you can REST (Romans 4:5). 
Whatever your favorite sin is offering, Jesus offers BETTER. Give up the tin, to get the gold! Give up the toilet water, to enjoy the fine wine! The last verses of Psalm 84 are a key part to understanding how Jesus can be better than all the other things that vie for our affections; verses 11-12 say, "For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the one who trusts in You!" When we put Jesus in the place of highest affection, and trust Him to provide for us in the way that He lovingly and wisely decides, then we are BLESSED, and He doesn't withhold ANY GOOD THING from us!  Jesus is NOT a kill-joy, who calls us to just give up on all our dreams and pleasures. Rather, He would have us ENJOY these things in their proper place. See, if you try to go after these pleasures WITHOUT Jesus you won't get them. But if you go after Jesus as your treasure? He graciously gives us all the other things we need, and with them He gives the enjoyment of not being owned by them or devastated when they don't satisfy you. 

In closing, here are three practical applications to live out "Jesus Is Better":
  1. See the Hook Behind the Bait: Realize that you are ALWAYS sacrificing for SOME deal that you believe will make you happy. The question is, will that deal satisfy? Is it a good deal? We can never NOT sacrifice for a deal, we always are believing something and giving ourselves to it. The problem is that any deal other than Jesus is going to fail us, and end up enslaving us. That's the hook behind the bait, something that Thomas Brooks knew well. Consider what it would actually be like to have a thousand days of your particular favorite sin, or even a good thing that you enjoy... A thousand days? Do you really want that? One of Satan's happiest tricks is to fill a box with guilt, shame, slavery, and despair... and wrap it up in pleasure and promises of freedom. See the hook behind the bait. 
  2. Remember the Happy Gospel: The gospel is one of the greatest displays of how Jesus is better, and will MAKE you happy as you remember it and spend time meditating on it. David said in Psalm 32:1, "Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." Blessed! Happy! The gospel is the GOOD NEWS about forgiveness in Jesus for all the ways that we have failed to love Him better than other things. And in the Gospel, we are given a NEW heart (Ezekiel 36:26)  that has new affections for Christ! 
  3. Fight for a Superior Joy in Jesus: Don't fight your pleasure with self-discipline and harsh asceticism! Colossians 2:23 says that that doesn't work against fleshly lusts. You have to fight pleasure with pleasure. In this case, fight for a GREATER and superior pleasure in Jesus. Fight! Work hard! When you have a new love interest, you naturally cultivate your affection by meditating on their character, looking at pictures of them, spending large chunks of time with them. Do the same with Christ! DATE Him! Pursue Him! Look at "pictures" of Him in the Word, spend large chunks of time with Him in prayer! This will NOT come naturally and passively. You must be active to fight for this joy in Jesus. And it will be worth it. 
Fighting to believe that Jesus is better,
The Relentless Fight

PS: Here's an iPhone 4 wallpaper of Jesus is Better, and iPhone 5-size too!