(Photo taken by Erik Johansson)

Written by Lauren McDermott

4/27/2017

Is Jesus Worthy Of Everything?


“Your power to give a compassionate witness about Jesus to unbelievers will grow in direct proportion to how precious Jesus is to you.”

Coming across these bold words by John Piper, I paused. Most Christians would be immediately drawn to agree with the great preacher. But do we really understand what he’s saying? Of course Jesus is precious, most worthy of all!

But worthy of what? Why? Why does it matter?

On Palm Sunday, we heard of horrific news: ISIS bombed two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt during service, killing at least 40 of our brothers and sisters, and injuring more than 100 others. This is one in a long string of violent attacks against the Coptic church in Egypt, a majority Muslim country where faith in Jesus is dangerous.

I marvel at the Christians of the garbage village in Cairo, who openly tattoo crosses on their wrists as a sign. They would rather die than deny Christ—a proclamation that is actually put to the test.

Is this what Christ is worthy of?

The testimony of our Coptic family is striking, and consistent. In February 2015, 21 Coptic Christians refused to deny Jesus and were beheaded by ISIS, as the world looked on.

Mother of Abanoub Ayiad, one of the 21, later said, “May God forgive ISIS…I gave the best gift to God. My son.” Her thoughts were echoed by many of the other surviving family members. Jesus is worthy of our lives—and our deaths.

Bishop Felobous, related to 5 of those who were murdered, explained, “Their leaving is painful. But we are not sad. We are proud of our martyrs. I congratulate ISIS. God is using them to bring martyrs to the world. Everything happens for a reason. I was very sad when I heard the news of the air strikes lead by the Egyptian military against ISIS. God asked us to even love our enemies.”

Words like these confuse and captivate the World. Our Coptic family found Jesus immeasurably valuable. Their sacrifice and painful compassion on their worst enemies speak volumes. They echo Paul’s words in Philippians 3:7:

“Indeed I count everything as loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I might gain Christ.”

Still—why?

Revelation 5 reveals a particularly beautiful example speaking of the victorious Lamb in verses 9-10:

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.”

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is worthy, for he alone was able to bring to fruition the purpose of all Creation. Aside from the immeasurable riches and gifts he has lavished on his people, he is still worthy of all honor, glory, praise. No one other than our Jesus was capable of this great task: restoring the brokenness of creation, and fulfilling God’s good original plan of a kingdom built from every tribe and nation, devoted to the forever worship of I AM.

I wanted to learn from this authentic understanding of Christ’s worthiness. We see sacrifice, witness, and compassion from our Coptic family. Rejecting materialism and whole-hearted devotion from the Apostle Paul. Worship and vocation from Revelations. The Coptic Christians, Paul, and Revelation sing together: he is worthy of everything we have, our very lives.

So why does it matter?

I see why John Piper’s words prove true. Our witness is tied to our understanding of Jesus’ worthiness. How can we bear witness to the value of anything, if we do not first understand its value?

As American Christians, we often have a hard time translating what it truly means for us to give to Christ what he deserves. We’ve engaged in Culture War, although I think we could honestly say that pursuit often involves less personal risk, worship, and sacrifice, than it does pride and fear of the other.

I propose we instead learn from Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” What we follow will shape us. I see that truth play out every day as I walk on college campuses to do ministry among students—I’m sure you see it too.

What does it mean to deny yourself today? To take up your death (the cross)? To leave everything and follow?

I see the fruit of following Christ’s example in the testimonies of the Coptic church: radical forgiveness, compassionate proclamation, bold sacrifice, and glory to God.

Let me echo the questions we began with. Is Jesus worthy of everything—precious—to you, or not? If so, why? I challenge you to write those reasons down. (Yes, with actual pen and paper.)

That is your testimony. This is what Stockton needs to hear. Will you share it this week?

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Lauren is a campus missionary on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. As a part of Reality Church Stockton for the past five years, she has served with the Music Ministry and in connecting college students to the local church. In her spare time, she enjoys challenging theological conversation, cats, and psychologically intense movies.