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Friends in Christ Weekly Message
March 27, 2004
You know my pedigree: a legitimate birth, circumcised on the eighth day; an Israelite from the elite tribe of Benjamin; a strict and devout adherent to God's law; a fiery defender of the purity of my religion, even to the point of persecuting Christians; a meticulous observer of everything set down in God's law Book.
The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I'm tearing up and throwing out with the trash - along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant - dog dung. I've dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn't want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ - God's righteousness.
I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. If there was any way to get in on the resurrection from the dead, I wanted to do it.
I'm not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don't get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I've got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward - to Jesus. I'm off and running, and I'm not turning back.
Philippians 3:4b-14 (Message*)
Paul here outlines the dramatic change that occurred in him from a zealous, legalistic persecutor of Christians to a follower of Christ. He threw out his status and position, as well as his legalism, so that he "could embrace Christ and be embraced by him". The place of the religious law in his life was taken by personal experience of Christ. This dramatic change in his life enabled him to experience Christ's resurrection power.
We may not have Paul's pedigree, but we may have status and reputation in the world, gained by following the world's rules and/or the rules of legalistic religion. We need to turn from viewing that as important. Instead we need to embrace Christ Jesus and be ready to suffer for our commitment to Christ, knowing that trusting Christ is the only way we can experience the power of his resurrection - which is beyond anything the world offers.
Is your eye on the goal to which God calls us? Are you off and running, reaching out for Christ? Are you committed to not turning back, no matter what the world throws at you?
* The Message version ©2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.
©2004 Friends in Christ, Inc.
Friends in Christ, Inc.
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