Day 41: Philippians 3:1-14

Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard.

Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh—even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh.

If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard 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 one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:1-14 (NRSV)

We all long to have the security of identity. Whether it’s the status of a relationship, the position of a job, family identity, heritage, experiences, or aptitudes, we talk about our qualifications and associations as the things that define us. Here in Philippians, Paul talks about the credits that would have set him apart as a rabbi: he was consecrated, educated, from the right family, and a part of all the right activities. According to religious standards, he was doing all the right things. Yet, according to Paul, following Jesus fundamentally changed his identity. No longer did he consider the standards of culture to define his status. Christ was the ultimate relationship for Paul, and his relationship with Christ was the standard by which all of the rest of life was to be measured.

Reading this passage in Philippians chapter three, we often neglect the correlation to the previous chapter in which Paul explains the identity of Christ to be one of self-emptying. Essentially, here is what Paul is saying by following up Philippians two with this passage: I empty myself of the labels of the world and join Christ in an identity of selflessness, servanthood, and suffering. For Paul, following Christ is not secondary or additional; it is primary and redefining. Christ changes everything about the way we understand our relationship to the world. This is very unnerving stuff - but this is the Gospel. My prayer is that we too might be redefined by Jesus in these days.

Jonathan Burkey, Pastor of Worship Arts

Brad Taylor