“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss (KJV: dung!) 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 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— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
A text like this clearly indicates that Paul (the apostolic guy, not the Paul writing this note), was a very passionate man about some things in life. It would seem here, that the thing he is most passionate about in life is his gratefulness & appreciation of Jesus Christ and His action at the cross.
Paul was a man of noble birth, well educated and from a good social background (see verses 4-6). Chances are that
with that background, he had probably done fairly well in life so far. He was not some uneducated no hoper with nothing to lose. And yet, he considered everything he had, loss, or rubbish (NIV) or dung (KJV: actually the original word was a far more offensive word than that, but translators toned it down to dung so as to not offend modern Christians!) in comparison to the worth of knowing Christ.
He wanted to be found in Christ, to be hallmarked by His righteousness, not trying to prove or accomplish anything in his own strength at all, but wanted to know Him and become like Him and share in His sufferings and His power.
WHY? So that by any means possible he may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Paul was extremely aware that there was nothing he could do that would qualify him for that resurrection. There was no earthly qualification for that. His credentials meant nothing, his possessions meant nothing, his personal wealth meant nothing! Every single thing he could do or accomplish or earn or look good for here on earth, had no bearing whatsoever on that resurrection.
He knew, that the single most important part of his Christian life, was that extremely high value on Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross.
I wonder, do we in the modern church (that has to have Paul’s passionate language toned down to fit in with our conservatism), still place such a high value on Christ and the cross?
That may sound like an odd question, but let’s evaluate it a little.
Extreme Life has recently moved into an amazing building of our own and redecorated it in a way that reflects us and 2009 far better than anything we have shared before. We have fitted it out with an amazing stage and PA system and visitor’s lounge and a host of other fantastic features. Even the best coffee machine in town! But if we have lost the value of Christ and the cross, what is it all for?
Has all of this stuff (and even our own personal stuff and accomplishments) taken a higher value in our hearts than Jesus Christ Himself?
Do we come and worship the building and the fit out and all the amazing stuff that makes up part of Extreme Life (or your church), or do we still come with a sense of awe and amazement at what Jesus has done for us?
Let me share a more modern story of a person passionate for Jesus…
A young lady who was saved at 15 years of age, was impacted by the kingdom of heaven and a love for Jesus. Unfortunately, the rest of her family wasn’t. And so living a 10 minute drive from her church, she was reliant on her father who didn’t know or love Jesus, to drive her to church each Sunday morning. Some Sundays her father would inform her 10 minutes before church was due to start, that he would not be driving her that day and she would have to find her own way there or stay home.
At that point many modern Christians would adopt a theology that God obviously wanted them to stay home that day and find a nice place to sit and relax and watch the television. But not the young lady at the heart of this story. She would simply remove her high heeled shoes (that were part of standard attire at that particular church) and run for 30 minutes.
Arriving some 20 minutes late all hot and sweaty from the journey, she would slip in and join her friends in worshipping her savior Jesus Christ.
You see, she was passionate. She was all too aware of what she had been saved out of. She knew the ramifications of life without Jesus and life with Jesus and she celebrated that her life was now with Jesus.
Nothing was going to stop her from getting to that meeting to gather with her new believer friends and to offer Jesus everything she had in praise, adoration and worship (Hebrews 10:25!).
Jesus and the cross were absolutely central to her Christianity. No price was too high, no inconvenience too great, no display of passion was too excessive!
We might think that kind of thing happens in some nations or whatever else justifies it in our thinking, but that young girl’s story happened right here in Australia and not all that long ago. That young girl is now my wife and she remains as passionate for Jesus now as she was then. Still no price is too high ,no inconvenience is too great, and no display of passion too excessive.
As would be the case for all of us, if Jesus was still the centre of our Christianity and our gratitude and appreciation of Him and what He has done for us governed our daily thoughts, actions, decisions and lives.
I certainly hope that Extreme Life at least, can become known for such passion and devotion to Christ!