A few weeks ago, I went to a Jazz concert to see some friends play. I hadn’t been to one in a while. I haven’t listened to Jazz a lot in the past, but I have found myself enjoying it more and more over the years, to the point that it is one of my favorite kinds of music now. I remember listening to it towards the end of high school and thinking, “there is something really enjoyable here, I just can’t make myself like it as much as I want to.” Over the years, though, I think I have developed an ear for it. My wife, after all, is a musician, so my ear has unintentionally been trained over the years to appreciate different kinds of music on a deeper level. Needless to say, I don’t exclusively listen to Daft Punk and Hip-hop like I did when I was a teenager.
As I sat there enjoying the Jazz pieces, a thought hit me: Jazz is Jesus. Not in a pantheistic, God is everything and everything is God kind of way, but in a metaphorical sense. What I have been experiencing with Jazz music is the same thing I have experienced in my relationship with God over the years.
It started out with a glimpse of God’s beauty as revealed in the Bible. As a kid, I knew something great was there, I just didn’t know how to enjoy it yet. When God saved me and began to teach me more and more about himself, it was like taking Music Theory. The more I read and studied the Bible, I began to see God’s character and the way he works in the world. The more I related to him personally (through personal disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading) and corporately (by being an active part of a local church), the more I learned how to enjoy Him. You could say that my ability to enjoy him grew.
Seeing it in the Bible
I think we see this concept played out in the Bible. First off, look at what Paul says in Philippians 3:8-10:
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection…
Paul is saying he has counted everything good in his life as garbage. Why? “In order that I may gain Christ,” and “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection.” This is a simple observation, but do you not think Paul already “had Christ” and “knew him and the power of his resurrection?” These are the basics of what it means to be a Christian (Rom. 8:11). I think the answer is yes, which leads me to believe that Paul was really saying that he wanted more of these. In other words, he knew there was something else to be had, and he knew he just didn’t have it yet, but something had to happen in him in order for him to experience more of Jesus.
In addition, look at Mark 9:24. A man asks Jesus to heal his son and Jesus tells him that “all things are possible for the one who believes” (Mk 9:23). The man responds by crying, “I believe; help my unbelief!” At first glance, this phrase looks like nonsense. However, I think it reveals this principle—the man knew there was more to believe than what he currently believed. He knew that, objectively, there was more of God to be known, more to be believed in, but experientially, he wasn’t fully there yet.
That’s the whole point of what I am getting at. As we read through Scripture and experience God in our lives, we have got to remember that we are drinking out of an ocean with a spoon. There is always more of Him than what we are currently understanding, believing, and experiencing. As we grow in Christlikeness, our capacity to see him, know him, experience him, will grow. And when we die and are resurrected with new bodies, we will not be stuck hitting a ceiling of worship any longer. We will have the ability to see him perfectly, and in so doing our joy in God will be perfect.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).
If you are not a follower of Jesus and do not know this joy, you can today:
For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:10-11)