It is a New Year, and many people are making resolutions to change their lives and make them better. In this sermon, Greg talks about how Paul viewed his life’s journey. Make a new resolution this year that will mean more than a few pounds lost.
It’s the beginning of a New Year and many people are making new resolutions. While most resolutions are broken by the end of January, and about 90% are broken by the end of the year, it is appropriate to reflect on our life over the last year and ask, “How will this year be different?”
In Philippians, Paul talks about everything that he has done in the past. Whether it was his pedigree or instruction, his work as a Pharisee, or excelling in keeping the law, he counted it all as lost or less than worthless. Paul considered the worth of Jesus so great that everything else in comparison to be of no value. It’s like a flashlight. When you shine the flashlight in the dark, it means the world. But when the sun comes up, you can’t see the flashlight anymore.
When you know Jesus, you come into daylight. The shiny things that formally shone in the darkness mean nothing. One of the shiny things that Paul used to clamor for was righteousness. Paul realized that trying to become righteous, while a good thing, is nothing compared to knowing Jesus. Trying to follow the rules and being legalistic became nothing to Paul. Instead, he sees trusting in Jesus as his Savior, and not his actions, is much a better idea. Grace prevails in Paul’s mind.
Paul says that he wants to know Christ. This knowing is not an intellectual feat. Rather, Paul is saying that he wants to intimately experience and participate in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. He wants to get on the inside of Jesus’ life. He wants to be married to Jesus. He wants to have a deep, intimate, and knowing relationship with his Savior. While this entails transformation and a change in life, this isn’t a works based effort on our part. Rather, it is a trusting and following of Jesus and participation in His life. We choose whether or not to do this.
We choose whether or not to participate in Christ’s death. This is not being nailed to a cross. Rather, it is a rejection of the shiny things of this world and instead choosing the Son that shines bright. It’s seeing the world’s riches as crap and seeing the beauty of Jesus’ Kingdom. We will never be 100% transformed into the bride until the end of the age when our bodies will be resurrected. Yet, by choosing to participate in Jesus’ death, we will participate in the resurrection.
Paul says that he has not completed his process of becoming the bride and has not been made perfect yet. Paul is ok with this, because he presses on towards the goal of living his life knowing Jesus. He wants the righteousness of Christ to characterize his life. But it’s not about earning Christ’s righteousness; rather, it’s about traveling the road that leads to taking on Christ’s righteousness. The beauty of this traveling is that we’ve already arrived at the destination. Paul says the reason he wants to make the resurrected life of Christ his own is because Christ had already made Paul his own. Everything that Paul did was a reflection of what God had done for him. There was nothing to be earned and everything to be known.
It’s a New Year and no better time to start traveling the road of taking on Christ’s righteousness. Press on to become complete, not as something to acquire through actions, but rather completeness through knowing and choosing Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. All of this with the vision of knowing that God already has everything he needs from you.
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