What is your spiritual resume? What would you list as those things which “define” your life? Whatever the answer to that question is, it will be the thing that tells you, “You are ok.” The Apostle Paul lists his righteous resume before Christ and called it a pile of poop. The Bible doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing our attempts to make ourselves righteous…you will either find your righteousness in Christ or in yourself. Which is it for you?
By Pastor Ben Hiwale
The book of Philippians was written out of a situation where Paul is not being blessed. He has been seized, dragged, falsely accused, clothes torn off, beaten and put in the stockade. And yet this book overwhelmingly speaks of his joy and peace and happiness.
As I mentioned when we were looking at Philippians 1, one of the biggest problems we have living this Christian life and finding peace, joy and happiness is due to the fact that we have a terrible understanding of suffering. I heard one of the Faith teachers say recently that, for him, walking in favor with God is getting a good parking spot at the mall. If that was true, then Paul is definitely not walking in favor with God. Not only did he not get a good parking spot, his car got stolen and he got put into prison!
From my perspective, if the church fired me, people lied about me, I was put in prison, my reputation was ruined, my friends and colleagues turned on me – how many of you would say our Pastor just got blessed? That doesn’t compute for us. Maybe where you work, you work hard but someone else gets the credit for your ideas, they get the promotion and you get laid off. By the way, this happens to God’s people all the time. Do we say they just got blessed?
No, you say, “I can’t believe this is actually happening to me! I am really serving God and doing what he wants me to do!” Unless we understand what is going on in the book of Philippians, circumstances are going to have the potential to wreck your life and wreck your faith. They are going to cause you to get depressed, angry and angry at God.
So the Book of Philippians is giving you an entirely new way, a radical and revolutionary way at looking at life. Paul is not giving us a band-aid with a smiley face to stick over the problems we face. Our youngest son Andrew went through a phase where no matter what happened, he thought that a band-aid fixed it all. So until he got a band-aid on, he couldn’t think beyond that.
In the U.S., being a Christian has its benefits and advantages. However, at some point in your Christian journey you are going to come to a place where things are going to be hard. You will have to give some things up. It will cost you something. You will know when that moment comes; some of you may be facing it right now.
Our response to that moment and the decisions we make then will determine two things about you. It will determine whether you will continue to be a “consumer Christian” or become a “Follower”. A consumer says, this Bible is filled with incredible principles about finance, marriage, life, discipline, purity, morality, intimacy, so you consume those ideas. That’s OK, there’s nothing wrong with that, because Jesus wanted people to follow Him. He fed them, healed them, provided for them, instructed them. Jesus understood Consumerism, but he also modeled a life where you go from consumer to follower.
In Jesus’ time there were consumers and followers, just like they are in our times. I have to admit that at times I have gone back and forth between being a consumer and a follower. When we received Jesus Christ in your heart, we all become consumers. Jesus is our Savior, He did something for us – saved us, had mercy on us.
At some point you bump into something at one of those stages where you realize you need to become a follower, and it’s going to cost you something.
Now that Jesus is our Lord, we want to do something for Him. That’s what Paul is talking about this passage. Salvation is free – it cost you nothing – but following Christ will cost you something. Not only will it cost you something, but there will be no return on the price you pay. In that moment you will learn something about yourself, and hopefully in that incredibly intense moment, you will decide and make the transition from consumer to follower.
There is a severe warning against false teachers. Judaizers that we read about in Acts 15:1. They believed that unless a person was circumcised and followed Mosaic cleansing disciplines you were not saved. This text is profoundly theological and deeply personal. Theologically it is speaking of salvation, justification, sanctification and glorification; personally, it shows the effects of the gospel and a radical reorientation of one’s life.
We summarize this passage: The most valuable thing is Knowing Christ and Becoming like Him.
The Four Pillars:
The most fundamental human need is for righteousness. All of us find it somewhere. When you are younger, your righteousness is usually your talents, your dreams, or your marriage. When you become a Follower, you trade in your righteousness for Jesus’.
The second thing you gain when you become a Follower is the Knowledge of God. Before we surrender to Him we think we will be happy if we just distinguish ourselves over others. We try to build a great and glorious resume. When we become a Follower, we trade all that for truly knowing the Glorious One – Christ.
Jesus wants us to know the power of His resurrection. We live in fear, always looking for power and control. When we become a Follower, we trade in our power for His. That is a good trade. You look at the list of your accomplishments and it’s really not that impressive. Paul had a good one and he considered it worse than worthless
Paul says, I have an assured hope for the future; I want to attain the resurrection of the dead. When you become a Follower, you have no fears about the future; you know it is all going to work out.
Bottom line: The Cross saves you, but it also should also shape you!