Reading: Philippians 3: 4b-9
Verse Seven: Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Jesus Christ.
Saul had a really good life. His religious life checked off all the boxes: circumcised as an infant, a member of the tribe of Benjamin, a Pharisee, great zeal for his religion, a faultless follower of the Law. To Saul, he was as faithful to God as anyone. From his perspective on top of the pedestal, he looked pretty good.
But then Saul met the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus. He went through a powerful transformation experience. The new Christian, Paul, writes, “Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Jesus Christ”. All the titles, all the accolades, the view from the pedestal – they all are lost. In the next verse Paul calls all these things “rubbish”. For Paul, they are pale and worthless compared to the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”. What a change has been wrought in Paul!
At times, some look at faith as Saul did – a series of rules to follow or boxes to check. Baptized as a baby, came back to church for a dose of confirmation, returned maybe for graduation or to get married. For others it is a bit deeper – come most Sunday mornings for the hour, say a short grace before meals, help out at the yearly ham dinner. On the surface, their religion feels okay, maybe even good. It would appear the requisite boxes were being checked off.
When Saul met Jesus, his life radically changed. It wasn’t about saying that memorized prayer three times a day and eating only the “right” foods any more. It wasn’t about coming that one hour on Sunday morning. To Paul, the boxes were rote, they were false. He gave up all “that I may gain Christ and be found in Him”. Paul found a righteousness that comes not from the Law or anything he could do, but a righteousness that comes “from God and is by faith”. Jesus reached out and grabbed Paul. Life was never the same.
Has Jesus grabbed you? Is self and all else loss for the sake of Christ?