Like many of you, from childhood to young adulthood, I was competitive and played sports. I remember the values that I learned from hard work, consistency and even the importance of losing. I know that I struggled for a long time with the idea of losing and could not equate it with learning after having lost a game, race, competition. At some point, however, I did figure out that losing drove me to work harder and set my goals higher.
Paul speaks to this same dichotomy in Philippians chapter 3 when identifying that all he accomplished in his religious upbringing, he counts as loss compared to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He realized that everything he accomplished on his own, for his own glory and purpose was worthless. He realized that a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ is all that can bring fulfillment, success and ultimately, winning at life.
"But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead." - Philippians 3:7-11
Paul reveals his desire to know Christ on three levels. First, through the power of his resurrection. Paul desires to understand and know Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, and the only one able to fulfill God’s plan of redemption for humanity through the resurrection of His Son. I wonder at times, do I have a desire to know my Savior for who He really is?
Secondly, Paul wants to know Christ by participating in his sufferings. If you read the book of Acts, you will know that Paul most certainly suffered for the cause of Christ and suffered many of the same hardships and trials. Can any of us truly say that we desire to suffer like our Savior? If only I had the strength and faith to pursue such a life.
Finally, Paul desires be like Christ in his death. At first glance, this may sound morbid and even twisted, but let’s look a little deeper. What did Christ’s death bring? The salvation of the world and ultimately new life because of the will of God. Paul desires a new life in Christ, dying to himself and his old ways, so that he can live a new life in Christ. Shouldn’t anyone who has been saved from death and brought into life have a similar desire? Shouldn’t we all want to pursue a life that pleases God in every way?
I pray that I will have the same desires; to know my Savior for who He is, to be confident in my sufferings because I relate better to Christ through them, and finally, to die to myself in order to live for him. I want to lose all that I have or held as important so that I can win the life God intended for me. I hope that you have a similar prayer for your own life.
Pastor Brian Freerksen