Summary: A sermon for the New Year.
“Continuing the Journey”
What do you want more than anything else in the world?
Is it a higher paying job?
Is it a bigger house?
Is it some “perfect career”?
Is it to be the envy of your friends, co-workers; classmates?
Is it to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead?”
Hold it…wait a minute…something I just said doesn’t fit with the others.
Remember when, on Sesame Street, they would have like three ice-cream cones and one hot dog, or three squares and one circle and then they’d sing that song: “Which of these things is not like the others…”?
It’s kind of like that isn’t it?
In this world we can become so focused on the things that fill us up, and puff us up…
…things we do to keep up with the Jones’…
…that we lose focus or never even get a glimpse of what it is that is most important in life.
In Philippians Paul reminds us that he has pretty good reason to be confident in his achievements, and to basically be an egomaniac obsessed with self.
He lists his very impressive credentials that gave him high status in the community and the world.
Paul was born a pure-bred Hebrew.
Paul had been a rich and powerful man…
…he had been able to push his weight around to get things done…
…people looked up to him and those under him quivered when he headed their way.
That’s power, and power is a very expensive commodity in this world.
It’s also something that many people would find very hard to give up.
But one day, Jesus appeared to Paul…
… and Paul’s entire purpose…
…Paul’s entire direction in life changed!!!
Having been saved on the Damascus Road…having begun to taste the goodness of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul cast aside those claims, those credentials and worldly achievements on which he had once grounded all his self-esteem…
…he called them “rubbish”…
…because they were obstacles, stumbling blocks, weights and impediments in his journey toward gaining Christ and being found in Christ!
What do we consider as “rubbish” in order that we may “gain Christ… know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings?”
What do we consider as “rubbish” due to the fact that our greatest goal in life is to become like Christ “in his death, and so somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” ?
As we come to the end of 2017 and prepare for a brand-new year—what better time is there to make a life assessment?
What is it that shapes your identity and gives you security?
What holds you accountable?
Is it a house?
Is it a career?
Is it the envy and adoration you receive from colleagues and friends?
Or do you consider these things “rubbish”…which is a nice way of saying “cow dung” when compared “the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as Lord?”
Who is your lover?
Where is your focus?
Paul’s focus was “heavenward,” and in aiming his life “heavenward” Paul was able to experience so very much more joy, love, peace, patience and confidence than he would have ever experienced otherwise!!!
He was able to experience much more in this life than most folks, due to his dedication to Christ…no matter what the hardships he was enduring.
Can we relate?
C.S. Lewis once said: “If you aim at heaven you get earth thrown in; if you aim at earth you get neither.”
How much hell do we cause for ourselves due to the fact that we are not “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”?
What are we missing due to the fact that we are not willing to give up the old life for the new life in Christ?
What are we holding onto?
What do we still prize as “gold” when it is really just “dung”?
It’s interesting that Paul says he wants to become “like [Christ] in his death.”
How many folks have you heard say that with a straight face?
Christ died a bloody, painful death on a horrible wooden Cross!
How could Paul want to die like that?
Well, I don’t think he did want to die like that.
I think that Paul was speaking metaphorically.
Paul was so in love with Jesus Christ that he wanted to become more and more and more like his Savior.
And the epitome of being like Jesus Christ is emptying oneself completely for the sake of others.
And this is what Paul says Jesus did when he writes in Philippians Chapter 2 about how Christ gave up his privileges and did not consider equality with God something to be exploited.