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October 22, 2013
March 21, 2024

No Greater Aim - Theology of the Song

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of
knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. –
Philippians 3:7-8

Most Christians begin their faith captured by the truth of forgiveness. This is right and good; may we never lose the wonder of God canceling our sin’s enormous debt. At the time, it seemed there could be no higher gain than being delivered from God’s wrath by God Himself.

There comes a time when our eyes adjust and we see the true treasure of God’s loving work in Christ. The weight shifts from what we’ve been saved from to what we’ve been saved to. We are like one who has escaped into a room from a bright but deadly explosion. At first, our eyes are blinded and we can only marvel that we are delivered. But as our eyes adjust to the new room, we delight to see that the room is filled with priceless treasure.

When the shift happens, forgiveness becomes, not less sweet, but much sweeter. Now we see that it is not an end, but a vessel that delivers us safely from destruction to a glorious location: knowing and having Jesus. This goal is what the song “No Greater Aim” is all about: a meditation about knowing and having Jesus as our greatest prize.

Once my heart was lost, tangled deep in sin
Wand’ring far from grace, and veiled in shame
Yet with boundless love You have brought me home
Now my greatest prize: to know Your Name

Knowing You, Jesus, only You
There is no greater aim
In Your presence here, my joy is found
There is no higher gain

We were all once far from God with no lasting hope. Alienated from Him, tangled in our sin, and darkened in our understanding because of our hard hearts. We were satisfied to seek happiness in anything but the only One who can satisfy. Because of our rebellion, Jesus was our greatest threat.

It’s frequently said that the 2 greatest words in the Bible are “But God…” All these sad things were true of us, but God chose us, sought us, sent Jesus for us, brought us home, sealed us with His Spirit, and changed our hearts. Where Jesus was our greatest threat, now there is no greater aim than to have Him. He is our hope and our joy!

Oh my soul cries out just to know You more
To be fettered by unfailing love
Though the fires may flash, mighty thunders roar
Still my hope’s secure in Christ above

The greatest news of the gospel is that we get to have Jesus forever. He is our treasure that is bound up in heaven, that moth and rust cannot destroy. So we cry out now because our grasp on Him is incomplete and interrupted by our wandering and doubting hearts. And so we have a wonderfully ironic request: “fetter us, chain us, constrain us near to Your love.” But even though we may waver and this life threaten us, our hope is sealed and secure in the One who conquered death!

May my life be steeped in unceasing praise
‘Til in death we’ll meet on heaven’s shore
Oh that glorious day, ’tis Your face I’ll see
And in Your arms I’ll sing forevermore

As surely as Jesus is alive right now, so we will see Him face to face. And when we see Him, He will transform us and we will be like Him. And we will have Him forever, uninterrupted by anything within us our outside of us. Death will be gain. Death is gain for the Christian because Jesus is better than anything life can give or death can steal.

Your love is higher, Your glory brighter
And my hope is set on You
My greatest longing is found in knowing
That my hope is set on You

So, heart of mine: listen up! Don’t get hung up with the gaining and losing of trivial joys in this life. Jesus’ love is a higher joy. His glory is a brighter fame. All of my greatest longings will find their final satisfaction and fulfillment in Him. When I bind my hope for happiness up with His undefeatable life, my happiness becomes undefeatable and eternal as well!

O, praise the Lord for the forgiveness and the grace that delivered me into such a treasure as this!

As St. Augustine once wrote,

“How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys
which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me and took
their place… O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation.”

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Jon Dansby
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