Epitaph: Write This On My Grave Stone

When they put a headstone over my grave, I hope they chisel on it, “He proclaimed the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things, and he lived like he meant it.”

If I die having spent every day proclaiming – to my family, to my friends, to my coworkers, to my neighbors, to everyone I can – that Jesus is the center of everything, that the Triune Godhead is the point of all existence, it will be a good thing. If I do so having lived in such a way that no one can say I did not mean it, it will be a better thing.

I’m not sure it could yet be said of me. I’m timid, too often, to speak Jesus’ name to the nonbelievers I know – for fear of what others will think, for worry that it will drive away those I want to win to Christ. Thick irony, yes? I’m afraid to speak the name of Christ to those who need him most because I worry it will keep them from coming to Christ. There is something wrong with this picture.

That something is the fear of man. It is, in other words, a quiet refutation of that which I profess so believe, that which I want chiseled on my tombstone. I may believe that Jesus Messiah is indeed the center of all things. But as the apostle James so incisively notes: “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder!” If my life does not show the evidence of my profession, what am I saying about my profession?

I recognize already that there is danger for those who pursue ministry. Too many men walking the road I follow have sacrificed their families, have chased after fame and wealth and success, have let anything and everything lead them astray from their first love, for me to come at it cavalierly. God forbid – truly, God forbid! – that I should stray thus! If I am going to faithfully proclaim Christ’s supremacy over all things, I must live in such a way that his supremacy in my life is unmistakable.

That is not to say that I must live perfectly. Were it so, I would quit the endeavor immediately; such a thing is beyond any of us. No, a truly Christ-centered life is one that aims to glorify him in everything. And since I will fail at that aim, I pray that when I sin, at least my repentance will point others to him. To live our lives with Jesus supreme does not mean we do not stumble; it means that we take even our stumblings as opportunities to magnify him.

So when I snap at Jaimie, I pray I will be swift to apologize. When I am impatient with Ellie, I pray I will be swift to show contrition so that she will see the face of Jesus more clearly. When I embrace my own pride, I pray I will be swift to repent and humble myself publicly, that my life might not put Jesus to shame.

By the grace of God, in the power of his indwelling spirit, I will chisel the supremacy of Christ across every aspect of my life – no less my failures than my victories – so that when I die, it will be a fitting epitaph: Christ the center of all things, and especially this man’s life.

Pipe up!

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