Jesus, My Magnificent Obsession: A People of Whom the World Is Not Worthy
by Daniel Lim
And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and
. . . of David . . . and the prophets: who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. (Hebrews 11:32–35)
The Scripture clearly describes a glorious remnant of believers dwelling on the earth when Jesus returns. These will be a people whose mind is set on things above, a people who understand that things which are seen are upheld by things not seen, even by the very word of God. A people who despise the enticing passing pleasure of sins which has subjected this world to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. A people who live by the law of the Spirit and life, who are free from the law of sin and death, and whose mind has been transformed according to the mindset described by Paul in Philippians 2:6–9. A people who present their bodily life in its entirety as an utmost expression of spiritual worship, a people who live by faithful proclamation the wonderful Gospel of the kingdom of God, pulling as many as out of the fire of hell as possible. A people saved by grace through faith and thus displaying the excellency of Christ’s grace on the earth. A people who have been ravished by Christ’s love, thus living in the normality of loving one another even as Christ loves us. A people who live by the Beatitudes and daily take up their cross to follow Christ.
My dear brethren, consider with me how at this apex of global redemption God will have such a remnant on the earth whom He has called from every tongue, every tribe, and every nation; shining as burning lampstands on the earth and prepared as a Bride for His Son. Oh, how glorious!
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented—of whom the world was not worthy. . . . And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us. (Hebrews 11:35–40; emphasis added)
As the church in the West continues to be plagued with religious opulence and spiritual famine, such strong characteristics of a holy remnant may not seem common among us, even though the Bible unapologetically insists that everyone who believes, I mean literally everyone, live this way. The Holy Spirit has prophesied through the Scripture that Jesus will have a strong people with understanding, that will carry out great exploits in the last days; a glorious Bride without spot and wrinkle made ready for Himself. This is a necessary future of God’s people. As spiritual compromise, luke-warmness, and even outright apostasy are increasingly ravaging through the Western church, I trust that the Holy Spirit remains steadfast in His mighty works to complete what Christ had finished on the cross. We as believers must set ourselves to not settle for less than the fullness of God, that we might be counted worthy of being unworthy of this world.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us. (Hebrews 12:1; emphasis added)
No matter what the gates of hell throw against God’s people, His ekklēsia (Church) has a corporate victorious destiny undergirded by the grace of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. How do we as individuals find ourselves in this glorious storyline? How do we navigate such a perilous and yet secure future? The Scripture exhorts us to consider the fact that we are not alone. We are part of a long line of those whom heaven delights in and of those who count the gains of this world as dung. These are ones who were in this world but not of this world. This great cloud of witnesses is our tangible barometer to heavenly reality in the midst of a world that seeks to emasculate us with vain vision and vile passion. This cloud of witnesses, the trophies of grace in history’s showroom, reminds us when we are weary that we are made for one reason and one reason alone—to know God and to enjoy Him forever.
But the author of Hebrews is not just referring to the saints of old in this passage; no, but even more so the saints of today—the men and women in your life, at your workplace, in your family, and in your pews who call upon the fame and hope of Christ. Paul prayed fervently for those in the church of Ephesus who were experiencing unprecedented revival, that they “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that [they] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18–19). Paul’s pastoral heart was so in tune with the desire of the Great Shepherd that the Holy Spirit confirmed this prayer as holy Scripture, that we might still today pray it for each other. It is our present brethren in Christ who continually sharpen us in spirit, soul, and body, as we all mutually pursue this grand and magnificent obsession, in which we are most glorified and most satisfied. By abiding in this bonding desire, with Jesus as our “one thing” (Psalm 27:4), we live out a vibrant life of loving each other even as He has loved us. The author of Hebrews made it abundantly clear, this holy and peculiar people will only experience the fullness of their walk in Christ with one another by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Even so, let us run together today.
And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12: 1–2; emphasis added)
Indeed more powerful than the reality of being surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, both past and present, we have Jesus as the “author and finisher of our faith.” We have been given the privilege by His redemptive blood to approach His throne of grace, to behold Him, and fellowship with Him in His sufferings, death, and resurrection. Oh, how a life immersed in the fascination of Jesus’ beauty inspires a life of imitation of Christ! By imitating Christ in carrying our own cross daily, we find ourselves among a company of peculiar people; pilgrims on the earth whose ultimate destiny is the eternal city of the New Jerusalem. When our gaze is fixed upon Jesus, as our magnificent obsession, difficult trials seem like momentary light afflictions, the vainglory, pride, and lust of this world lose their seduction in comparison with the eternal weight of the glory of Christ. And truly, for such a people, the world is not worthy . . .
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Want more from Daniel Lim? If so, we recommend Bible 360: Total Engagement with the Word of God. This helpful book includes 10 profound and highly practical ways to engage with God in the Bible as well as other tools. Bible 360 is available now from the Forerunner Bookstore in print and various ebook formats. Learn more >>
- Senior Leader, IHOPKC
- Facilitator, Onething Global Leadership Summit
Daniel Lim served as the Chief Executive Officer of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (2008-2020). He was trained at a Baptist seminary (MA in World Missions) and served as a Baptist pastor in Southeast Asia. With a passion for the gospel of the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, Daniel teaches at conferences, churches, universities, and seminaries throughout the nations.
Daniel is the author of Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God. Daniel is married with two children. One of his children went home to be with the Lord in 2008 during a crisis relief effort.