“But even beyond that, I consider everything a loss in comparison with the superior value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have lost everything for him, but what I lost I think of as sewer trash, so that I might gain Christ and be found in him. In Christ I have a righteousness that is not my own…but rather from the faithfulness of Christ. It is the righteousness of God that is based on faith. The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead… I pursue it, so that I may grab hold of it because Christ grabbed hold of me for just this purpose. “ (Philippians 3:8-12, CEB).
When I was in college the rock band, The Doobie Brothers, recorded and released the song, “Jesus Is Just Alright With Me.” Although the song was originally written as a gospel song, The Doobie Brothers’ recording was meant for listeners of pop and rock music. The song became quite popular, however, among counterculture Christians, particularly those involved with the Jesus Movement of the 1970s. The song continues to be a staple of playlists on classic rock radio stations.
I’m sure as a member of the Jesus Movement in the 1970s I sang the song many times at student prayer meetings on my college campus. I still like the song today.
Recently, I heard the song on one of those classic rock radio stations and began to reflect on the perspective posed by the song: “Jesus is just all right with me!” And, it occurred to me that the sentiment expressed in the song that I loved so much as a young Jesus freak actually confirms what can go wrong with my faith as a mature Christian.
I like being comfortable with Jesus. He’s cool with me! So, it’s an easy and convenient place for my faith to reside when it’s a relationship that is clean, friendly and socially acceptable.
Certainly, Jesus is just all right with me isn’t exactly the expression of faith in Christ that the Apostle Paul describes in this declaration from his letter to the Philippians.
“’Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?’” (John 6:68-70, NASB).
This declaration by Jesus spoken at the end of a lengthy John Chapter 6 may, at first, seem ambiguous. But, given the events of this chapter, Jesus’ response to Peter’s question is quite revealing. So, let’s do a quick recap of John 6 to see why Jesus would tell Peter that He chose a devil to be one of His disciples.
“That you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel” (Exodus 11:7, NASB).
This statement is the conclusion of Moses’ declaration to Pharaoh before God sent the final plague, the deaths of all the firstborns, against Egypt.
A previous meditation about the plagues God sent against Egypt to convince Pharaoh to emancipate the Israelites established that what matters to God is where your allegiance falls. The Israelites couldn’t serve serve God and Pharaoh.
“Let my people go, so they may serve me” (Exodus 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3, NASB).
If I asked the question, “What did God tell Moses to say to Pharaoh?” you would probably respond, “Let my people go!” At least that’s the way I remember it, but that’s not the whole story.
A closer reading of the story of the plagues God sent against Egypt to convince Pharaoh to emancipate the Israelites in Exodus 7-10 reveals there’s more to God’s directive to Pharaoh than just release the Isralites. And, what else God told Moses to tell Pharaoh suggests that the conflict between God and Pharoah played out in this narrative was of cosmic proportions!
“And Elijah came near to all the people and said, ‘How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.’ And the people did not answer him a word.” (1 Kings 18:21, ESV).
This verse is the challenge the prophet Elijah issued to the people of Israel to be faithful to God preceding his contest on Mt. Carmel with the 450 prophets of Baal.
“When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, you are to consider the fruit forbidden. It will be forbidden to you for three years; it is not to be eaten. In the fourth year all its fruit must be consecrated as a praise offering to the Lord. But in the fifth year you may eat its fruit. In this way its yield will increase for you; I am Yahweh your God” (Leviticus 19:23-25, HCSB).
The prohibition from eating the fruit of a newly planted fruit tree may have had to do with the fact that the fruit of a young tree was not well formed and did not taste good in the early stages of its life.
Since the firstfruits belonged to God (see Numbers 18:12-17), the fruit of the fourth year was consecrated to God as a praise offering to indicate that the Israelites recognized that God was the One who gave them the good things the earth produced and blessed them with increased production.