What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.
We humans have a pervasive desire for power, fame, wealth and recognition. We will go to great lengths to outdo one another, and we will frown at anyone or anything that gets in our way. Even as little children, we display the desire to see our names in lights. The little girl wants to be a princess and the little boy wants to be a superhero and both desires are encouraged and rewarded with loving nods by the adults in their lives. Very soon, these desires and ambitions dominate our adult lives. But in the Confession of St. Augustine, Augustine writes: “Sin comes when we take a perfectly natural desire or longing or ambition and try desperately to fulfill it without God. Not only is it sin, it is a perverse distortion of the image of the Creator in us. All these good things, and all our security, are rightly found only and completely in him (Philippians 3:8).”
Paul reminds the Philippians that he counted everything as loss because of the “surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord.” This means that when he was faced with a choice between himself and Jesus, Paul intentionally discarded anything that would draw attention to himself, in exchange for the privilege of knowing and experiencing Jesus. Paul lived the sentiments of that 1962 song made famous by Jim Reeves, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.” Life presents us with the same options; power, fame, wealth, recognition or Jesus? What are you willing to give up today for the privilege of knowing and experiencing Jesus more intimately? Are you willing to decrease, so that he might increase in you? Would you be willing to consider all carnal pursuits as garbage, for the promise of a deeper and more intimate relationship with Jesus?
Jesus loved us so much, that he was willing to give up everything, even his very life, for the excellence of the knowledge of humanity. He was willing to give up his very breath for the excellence of a relationship with you and me. As the apostle John puts it, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
On April 20, 1999, there was a tragic massacre at Columbine High School, in Colorado, USA. Cassie Bernall, a 17-year-old student was faced with the ultimate choice on that day; life or death, self-preservation or Jesus? She chose Jesus. She chose all of Jesus and was martyred for her faith. The daily choices we face are not that drastic, but they result in life or death for all of us. The main question today is this: Will you choose power, fame, wealth and recognition, or will you choose a more intimate relationship with Jesus? Are you willing to be like Paul; to intentionally discard anything that would draw attention to you rather than Jesus?
Loving God, thank you for offering up your life for me. Give me the strength and the courage to pursue more of you by the choices that I make each and every day. Holy Spirit inhabit all of me; inhabit my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength. Let me diminish, so that you might increase in me. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen