Thursday, December 31, 2009

Of Incomparable Value

{Philippians 3:7-9; NLT}
I once thought all these things were so very important, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the priceless gain of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I may have Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own goodness or my ability to obey God’s law, but I trust Christ to save me. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.

I want to begin by asking a question, “How valuable is Christ Jesus to you?” Take a moment and think about your answer. How we answer this question determines the direction of our lives, it is that important. If we don’t find Jesus to be very valuable then we are not going to concern ourselves with following him. On the other had if Christ Jesus is valuable to us then we will set the course of our lives to reflect that fact.

The apostle Paul told the Philippians that at one time in his life he did not think following Jesus was of any value. What Paul found to be of value were the traditions of his religion. He kept the law and was a member of the strict sect of the Pharisees, and his zealousness was seen in his active persecution of the church.

Yet something happened to Paul which changed the course of his life. Christ interrupted his life and showed Paul the true path of life. Jesus saved Paul from the empty life of his ancestors so that he could live the full life God intended for Paul to live. From that moment on Paul considered the valuable elements of his former way of life as garbage, because they could not compare to the life he had been given through Christ Jesus.

The reason Paul discovered Christ to be of incomparable value is because in Christ Jesus Paul discovered life. Paul would never have been able to give up his former way of life if he didn’t believe that it was in Christ alone that true life was found. Therefore Christ’s value in the life of Paul was connected to what Christ gave to Paul, and what Christ gave was nothing less than life itself.

We will never value Christ Jesus if we do not discover in him true life. That is what his death and resurrection were about. Jesus’ death on the cross took care of our sins, and his resurrection showed us that not only did he succeed in dealing with our sin, but he was now able to give us a brand new life.

What does this brand new life look like? True life looks like being made right with God. Part of this means that we are able to enjoy a relationship with God. It means that we have access to God through prayer, that God guides us through Scripture and his Spirit, and that we are able to experience God at work in and through our lives.

A second part of this new life means that we are restored to our proper role in creation. Genesis tells us that God created humankind for a purpose. Our responsibility is to be caretakers of creation, and that is still the responsibility of those who are God’s people. Because of sin part of what it means to be caretakers of Creation is to join God in rescuing people from the kingdom of darkness and bring them into the Kingdom of light. True life isn’t just about having our relationships restored, but it is also about having our purpose restored.

What this means is that through Christ Jesus our lives have value. Because we have a right relationship with God it means that we are valuable to God, and because we have a purpose in this world means that we are valuable to creation. In Christ Jesus we don’t have to settle for a life of mere existence, but we can live a life filled with meaning and purpose.

Since the apostle Paul found Christ Jesus to be valuable he discarded and threw away his former way of life. He came to realize that life wasn’t about his physical ancestry , what he believed, or how zealously he lived his life. What matter was Jesus, in whom true life is discovered. It was around Christ Jesus that Paul arranged his life.

This is where the rubber meets the road for many of us. We are willing to accept Jesus, to worship Jesus, and proclaim Jesus, but we are unwilling to throw out our former means of life. The reason so many of us struggle to live the life God has called us to live is because we haven’t made Jesus of supreme to us. Instead we have held on to a relationship, or the fantasy of a relationship, that we believed would give us the life we have longed to live. Perhaps we have place a lesser value on Jesus because of our desire to be entertained, and so we work our lives around television shows, video games, and music. There is the possibility that we have held on to the belief that our life is found in money and the accumulation of things, so we work, spend, and horde trying to find that magical place when we will be satisfied with life.

As we pursue the life God has created us to live our starting point has to be Jesus. We have to recognize that Christ Jesus is our source of life, that he is the vine and that we are the branches. I think this is a very hard thing for many us to accept. We know that it is taught in the Bible, but it just doesn’t feel real. It is this reason I would urge us to pray every day that God would help us lay down roots into Christ Jesus (Colossians 2:7) so that our faith may grow strong.

I also believe that we have to intentionally start arranging our lives around Jesus. Too many of us have allowed our lives to be caught up in the hectic stream of life and we haven’t made Christ Jesus a priority. We need to carve time out of schedule to be in Scripture. Not only do we need to read Scripture but we also have to memorize Scripture and meditate on it. The more we know Scripture the more we are equipped to know and do God’s will. We also have to make time in our lives to serve people, because that is the way Jesus lived. We cannot really love God until we also begin to love people, and serving people is an intentional act of love.

The bottom line is that we have to intentionally get rid of our former way of life and concentrate on Jesus’ way of life. That is how we demonstrate that Jesus is of supreme value in our lives.

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