4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
When I was 17 years old I went on a missions trip in Papua New Guinea. It was a great time with my friends and doing ministry, but one part of the trip really stands out to me, it was when I felt God speak to me very clearly for the first time in my life. After a long day of ministry, we were sitting around praying and I was just so overwhelmed by the needs in the world, and convicted by how self centered my life had been so far. I had to excuse myself to go cry in the bathroom, just confessing to God how I was more concerned over if a boy liked me or what my friends thought of me than I was about Him. As I laid those things before God I felt Him clearly say, “Those things will fade, but they can’t take Me away from you.” God knew that my real idol was stability and comfort (not much has changed) but He also knew that I needed to find my foundation in Him. To worship the One who never changes, and is worth so much more than my idols.
I think of Paul’s experience as a prominent Jewish leader, and how much his life changed after his conversion. Suddenly all of those things that he listed, his “confidence in the flesh” don’t mean anything. He has lost his Jewish community, authority, credibility by turning to Jesus. And although that must have been a very difficult loss, he see those things for what they are-rubbish, garbage- compared to knowing Jesus. Because Christ has appeared to Him as the risen King and Paul knows that His authority and love will never ever fade. He is consumed with knowing Christ and building his life on what won’t be taken away.
These past few weeks have been very difficult for our community and nation. We come to see that those things we were confident in- health, jobs, community, can very easily be stripped away. This can cause us to fall into panic or despair. But I pray that it helps to free us from our idols. To realize the truth that we may loose our financial security or health or even lives, but that we will never loose the love of Christ! God has pursued us and loved us sacrificially. In Scripture He describes His love for us as one of a mother comforting her child Isaiah 66:13, of a Father with His children 1 John 3:1, as a Husband with his wife Hosea 2:19, even saying that as we trust Him He will come and dwell in us John 14:23. These are promises that if we trust and know Christ we will never be abandoned no matter what we see around us.
Our challenge today is to look at what we value. Are they our accomplishments, status, security? Or are we desiring and pursuing Christ? The good news is that He is pursuing us, and will never stop loving us. He has purchased our salvation at the cost of His life so that we can know Him and make Him known.