Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Losing Self to Gain Christ

Devotion: Philippians 3:4-7

In our passage from last week, the Apostle Paul warned the Philippians of those who would seek to steal their joy by encouraging them to put their confidence in someone or something other than Christ. While the Apostle certainly has salvation in mind, we may expand that idea to include the conception of the self (i.e. who I am) and how and who defines the self. The temptation today is to demand the autonomous creation of identity. In other words, the culture teaches, that the individual gets to define self in numerous categories and that self-determination is tyrannically imposed on others. The value presented here is the value of definition, specifically self-definition. The place of the Christian in this is to question if that is something really to be valued at all.
Too often as we confront a culture gone mad we attempt to combat the symptoms, but do not touch the disease--those being the worldview values underlying the increasingly strange list of things that can, should and must be self-determined about the self and must, in turn, be accepted if not celebrated by others. When Christians go to war on these issues we typically think we will dissuade the other from a list of behaviors and they will come around to our way doing things. We too often leave untouched the sick and deadly worldview values and thus accomplish nothing in the long term, if we accomplish anything at all.
A better approach is to deal at the level of values, which I use here almost in an economic sense. A value is something we desire/want and will give of our resources (whatever those may be) to obtain it. Understanding this concept of a value, a good question to seek to answer would be, "What is it that a particular person values and how are those values determined?" When we get at values, we can understand confidence. Hence:
"though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." -Philippians 3:4-7 ESV
The Apostle demonstrates here the works-based worldview he had prior to his faith in Christ Jesus. He believed and acted upon values that stated that what you are by birth and what you do as a result of that is your reason to be confident that you have right standing with God. To be sure, the Apostle abandoned these values when he came to know Christ, realizing that these were false values leading to a false confidence.
The same is true today and we, as followers of Jesus, need to apply that truth. My self-worth is not determined by self-definition and your acceptance (if not celebration) of my self-definition. Instead, my self-worth is determined purely by the death of the Son of God on my behalf. Christ Jesus, out of pure love, gave himself in my place upon the cross. In humility Christ emptied himself that I may be filled with the presence of God. In that worldview, what is valued is not self, but Christ. My values are further determined by the values of Christ Jesus and never by the prevailing whims of culture.
When we meet people who are confused in a deeply confusing age, the kind and loving thing is to discuss what is valued and to honestly share our values as followers of Jesus. And remember, what we value above all else is Christ and even the self is not too high price to pay to gain him.

News for You:

  • We are hosting an evening of community prayer and worship of February 28 at 7 p.m. Please plan to come and pray with us.
  • Ash Wednesday is March 1. We will have services at both noon and 7 p.m. for those wishing to enter into a season of repentance in preparation for Resurrection Sunday.

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