April 22, 2018 - Inscriptions From The Heart
April 22, 2018
“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with Him.”
To emphasize the crux of his message in Philippians chapter 3, Paul starts by doing a bit of “showing off,” listing his pedigree and accomplishments as an outstanding Jewish citizen. It honestly got me thinking about my own life and the “good Christian resume” that I had under my belt: heavily involved in church ministries, head of the worship ministry for many years, whole family practically living in the church on weekends, etc. While none of these things are necessarily bad, Paul writes that they are completely worthless in and of themselves in light of what Jesus Christ did for us in His life, death, and resurrection. My accomplishments pale in comparison to what Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross fulfilled (that is, our redemption and reconciliation to the Father).
Reading this passage, it may seem like Paul is telling us to skip action and serving in the church and just focus on getting to know Christ personally. If we took this chapter on its own, we could definitely come to that conclusion and be content with living out our Christian life in private. In light of the Bible as a whole, though, we know that is not the case. Our journey as a Christian starts with the belief and acceptance that yes, I am a sinner and that yes, faith in Jesus is the only way for me to be made right with God. Truly gaining Christ and becoming one with Him leads us to not just inwardly reflect but then to outwardly express our faith: through loving His people, sharing His Word, and being a light to the lost.
Getting to know Christ gives our personal achievements a brand new significance and meaning. For example, I was no longer involved in church ministries out of obligation but rather out of a desire to see the church grow and flourish for the glory of God. Leading the congregation in worship and singing became less of a performance than an offering to the Lord of all creation, the One who deserves all of our praise. Service became less of what I do to increase my merit but rather, what the Lord does through me in order to increase His kingdom.
My hope and prayer for all of us is that we get to know Christ in such an intimate way that everything we do in our lives gains new meaning and purpose. We will work hard at our jobs not just to get money for more stuff but because God commands us to work as though we were working for Him, not for people (Eph 6:7). We will serve in and outside the church not for recognition from men but because of the love God has for His people (which He puts in us as well). We will be kind to our family, friends, and even strangers not because we want something in return but because God commands and enables us to love each other as He loves us (John 15:12). What an amazing God we have, in that He promises us not just a heavenly prize but also a full, enriching life on earth before we see Him again. It’s just ironic that we experience that full life after we consider everything else as garbage compared to knowing Jesus. God knows what He's talking about, though! So let us “press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me!”