Many many years ago there was a woman who lived in a trailer right up the road from the little church I was a pastor of in Virginia. She had become a Christian recently and came to my church – she was going to a counselor because she had a very hard life. I remember very clearly she certainly looked awful because she had been beaten over and over again by one man after another man over the years. She had been in one abusive relationship with men after another. She showed the scars. But she had become a Christian; she was coming to church; she was going to a counselor; and I would visit her . . . I'm going to read you a transcript of what I remember her saying . . . [what she said was] so weird and interesting to me and amazing to me . . . she was trying to tell me how Christ turned her life around. It was quite amazing. She said this:CHRIST IS ALL!
I'm going to my counselor and much of what she has said is right. My counselor said I have built my very significance and acceptability and identity on men. That's why I've been defenseless with them. I've simply needed them too much. All of that is right and helpful . . . However, my counselor doesn't have a very good solution for me.You see the therapist knew how to help her down – dig down into see what her idols were but had no way of giving her anything but an alternate idol. And so I said: "Well what are you doing? How are you doing?"
My counselor says what I should do instead is get myself a great career; get an education; have a successful career. While my counselor means well, and of course I absolutely do need to get some training and get myself a job and career. But what she's saying is I should do that so I will also feel better about myself by doing that. But that would mean I would be switching from one kind of idol to another . . .
For many years my heart has been looking at men and saying: "Unless I'm successful at love, I'm nothing." But the therapist wants me to look at my career and say: "Unless I'm a successful, independent, business woman, whose in control of my own life, I am nothing." I don't want to be enslaved to my work as I was to men. I don't want to be as enslaved to my independence as I was to my dependence. I'm actually being asked to exchange a typical female idol for a typical male idol; I don't want either.
And she actually quoted Colossians 3: "When Christ Who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
It's very practical. When I go to church; when I'm in worship; when what Jesus did for me is so real and so wonderful – in my heart I think of the men in my life and I say – I speak to them and I say this: "I'm glad to know you, and I certainly wouldn't mind being married. But you are not my life. Christ is my life. I'm done making anything else my life. You're a good thing, but you're not an ultimate thing. I would love to have a husband, but if I don't, I've got Jesus. And I set my mind on things above. You can't give me any of the things that Jesus has given me.See, she realized something – Jesus is the only Savior Who, if you get Him, will satisfy you. And if you fail Him – and we do fail Him – He died for you . . . the real solution is worship.
See I don't want to look to men or to a career. A career can't die for me. If I live for a career and fail, it will beat me up all my life for having been a failure. But if I fail Jesus He died for me to forgive me.
Tim Keller, "Christ, Our Life," Colossians 3:1-14, September 18, 2005.