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  • Writer's pictureAllison Wilcox

Gaining what matters

(Paul writes): 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 3:4b-14

A break from the vineyards...

There's a lot of law this week in the readings - stories of displeasing God. The vineyard this week becomes the scene of both God's great bounty - and God's great displeasure.

But from Paul, all we get is praise. Gospel. Good news.

He really wants to hammer home the point of how valuable Christ is to him. You know that parable about the man who sold everything to get the pearl of great price? Well, that's what Paul has done.

Nothing else matters to him. Not his status. Not his achievements. Not his pedigree. It's all worth giving up for him.

It's all rubbish.

Except rubbish is really a sanitized word. The next time you are shocked when a religious person swears, know that they come by it honestly. Paul is basically saying here that everything that's come before his faith in Christ is...well, a four letter word that starts with "s" and means excrement.

See, he wants to really hammer his point home.

I've never been in the position where I've had to give everything up to follow Jesus. Or maybe I have and I just haven't.

How much do I love my creature comforts?

How much do I love my achievements and educational pedigree?

Fortunately, even when I don't put God first, God still puts me first. And you. And Paul.

And every person you love or don't love.

That's certainly a good point to hammer home - with or without the cuss words!

You are the Pearl of Great Price, Lord. Thank you for making me feel like I am one for you, even when I forget how important you are to me. Amen

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