Summary: Following Christ means we have to move past the past in pursuit of increasing conformity to Christ.
Title: Don’t Let Religion Get Stuck on Your Shoe
Text: Philippians 3:4b-14
Thesis: Following Christ means we move past the past in pursuit of increasing conformity to Christ.
I was intrigued by a September 2003 postnote from the British Office of Science and Technology, which is an office representing both houses of the British Parliament, which analyzes and publishes public policy. You can check it out at www.parliament.uk/post.
It seems that gum chewing is up in the UK by one-third since 1998. Gum chewers are dropping their “already-been-chewed” gum onto pavements where it sticks firmly to the surface as it dries. The have discovered that chewed gum, “does not break down over time, so the gum deposits accumulate and compromise the quality of public spaces in the same way as other litter.”
In 2002 the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, commissioned a survey in which they discovered that chewing gum was the major source of staining on pavements. They cite “the greatest problems are around facilities such as schools, cinemas and swimming pools that are frequented by children and young people.” You can read it… it’s in the post.
One of the proposals for reversing this trend is the appointing of street wardens who may issue 50 pound “on-the-spot fines.” In other words, if you get caught spitting out a wad of gum it could cost you twenty-five bucks…
Other proposals include the restriction of gum sales in areas of particularly heavy deposits of chewed gum and the development of non-sticky or biodegradable gum.
I think they need to do what they did when I was a kiddo… if you got caught chewing gum you had to spend after school time scraping gum off the bottoms of school desks or the underside of bleacher seats.
At any rate… over the years I’ve stepped in a lot of stuff and among the more unpleasant has been a big glob of sticky gum. Sticky gum is hard to get off your shoe… so it is best to dispose of the sticky stuff properly, so it does not cling your shoe.
In our text today, God is speaking to us about the proper disposal of things in our past and present that inhibit or distract us from making forward progress in our journey of faith and our relationship with Christ.
We begin our discussion of the text by recognizing that some folks have reason to feel very (and perhaps very, very) good about their religious or spiritual accomplishments.
Perhaps you feel good about your religiosity…
I. We may feel very, very good about our goodness…
“I could have confidence in myself if anyone could. If others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! [Plus] I was never accused of any fault.” Philippians 3:4 and 6
A. Paul felt very, very, very good about his religiosity. He could boast of being:
• Circumcised when he was eight days old.
• Born into a pure-blooded Jewish family of the tribe of Benjamin. A real Jew… if there ever was one!
• A Pharisee who observed the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
• He zealously persecuted those who followed Christ rather than practice Judaism.
In Acts 9 we get something of the intensity with which he practiced his religion. “With every breath Saul was uttering threats… he was eager to destroy the Lord’s followers. He requested letters addressed to the synagogues in Damascus asking their cooperation in the arrest of the followers of Christ he found there. He wanted to bring them, both men and women, back to Jerusalem in chains.”
In June of 2004 Patricia Shroeder wrote an editorial in USA Today describing Ronald Reagan as the “Teflon President.” She concluded that whether he had sticky stuff or not, because of his sincerity and ability to communicate… nothing stuck to him.
He concluded the assessment of his own religiosity saying, “I observed the Jewish law so carefully that I was never accused of any fault.” Philippians 3:6 The Apostle Paul was, as one commentator put it, a “Teflon” teacher. Nothing stuck to him.
B. Some of us can feel pretty good about our goodness or religiosity as well.
Some of us have carefully observed a list of things that we’ve been told are necessary in the making of a righteous person, who can be proud of his spirituality… some of us have a lot to brag about. Perhaps:
• You were born into a Christian home.
• You went to church whenever the church doors were open.
• You learned early that you “don’t smoke, drink, dance of chew, neither do you go with girls who do.”
• You learned that Hollywood was evil and playing cards was of the devil.
• You learned that shooting pool was what they did in pool halls and having a pool table in your basement was conformity to the world.