Tag Archives: Philippians 3:8

Putting Jesus front and center

I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:8

When I first got out of college and graduate school, I thought I was ready to take on the world.  I had a few years of schooling under my belt and God had done some pretty wild things in and through me.  They were ‘wild’ good and I was wanting to share them with anyone I could.  The funny thing was that no one seemed to care.  They weren’t running up to me asking me how much I knew, wanting to know what God had done in my life, all the places I had been…

I’ve always said that the maturity path is: in your twenties you think you know everything, in your thirties you don’t think you know anything, and then after that you have a pretty good sifting of what you do and don’t know.  BUT, I’ve missed the point.  At least according to Philippians 3:8.  IT’S NOT ABOUT ME.  It never was.  Maybe somebody should have told me that back in my twenties, and maybe they tried and I couldn’t hear it.  It should have been about Jesus all along.

Paul said it in Philippians 3:  I used to brag on myself all of the time.  If anyone could do anything, I could do it better.  But now I count it as rubbish compared to knowing Jesus.    I started to figure this out a few years ago after reading a cool old book called They Found the Secret by V. Raymond Edmonds (1960, Zondervan).  He was the President of Wheaton College and he compiled stories of famous Christians from the early to mid 1900’s.  They were people who knew God and who did things for Him.

There is the story of one guy that really changed my thinking about just waiting to tell people about myself and what God has done in me–and turning that around to just talking about Jesus.  His name is Ian Thomas.  He said that he learned, Only as I related situations to Jesus did I find that He undertook.  As soon as I related a situation to myself, He retired into the background…That is the secret; it is so simple!  Just to relate everything to the Lord Jesus, and take our hands off–to stand back and say, ‘I thank Thee, Lord, this is Thy situation! (page 140)

Picture it:  Jesus is with you and you’re talking about Him.  He stays front and center and He’s free to work, and stuff happens.  People are drawn to Him, lives are changed, and the things you are trying to do actually go ten times smoother than usual.  You don’t draw attention to yourself, just to others and point to Jesus whenever you can.  But then you start talking about yourself and Jesus withdraws into the background.  He isn’t free to work, and the opposite is true.  Things don’t go as smoothly, the cult of “you” is formed, and you’re the only member.

Ian Thomas had said earlier in his testimony, I tried to make up with noise what I lacked in effectiveness and power (page 137).  The less we put our confidence in Christ, and the more we put it in ourselves, the more we need the “noise.”  We may be seeking effectiveness and power, but looking for it through the noise of our personality, skills, technology, loud music, or whatever else we take pride in other than Jesus.

So I’m better than I used to be.  I don’t try to jump in with stories about myself, or ‘one garbage-can-1260832__340.jpgup’ someone else’s story.  In fact, if people ask me about myself, I’m quick to try to bring it around to what Jesus has done or to get out of the limelight.  Maybe I’m in the ‘Paul club’ now, where I count all my stuff as rubbish just so I may gain Christ and be found in Him. At least I hope so.

 


Jesus is worth it

worth it

I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.  Philippians 3:8

In Matthew 13 there are the two short parables “The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up.  Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.  Again, the kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding on a pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it,” verses 44-46.

Paul somehow was able to grasp this.  He didn’t go out to look for the treasure, the treasure found him on the road to Damascus.  Maybe because he had such a dramatic vision, call and turn around he was able to see the stark contrast between his old life and his new one.  Also, if you recall, he got several special visitations from Jesus, causing him to value Him above all else.

What would it take for us to grasp the immense worth of knowing Christ Jesus so that we would be willing to lose everything, to leave the old life behind and to run after Jesus?  My husband and I just watched the documentary video put out by Nik Ripken called, “The Insanity of God.”  He also has a book with that title, along with the book, “The Insanity of Obedience.”

In his documentary he tells of his family’s work on the mission field in Africa.  One of their sons died suddenly in Somalia of an asthma attack, causing them to come home for awhile.  From there the Lord directed them to travel all over the world to interview Christians from the most persecuted places in the world.  They asked the persecuted church a simple question, “Is Jesus worth it?”  It was really a question that Nik needed the answer to, in light of the loss of their son.

One of the men that Nik interviewed told his story of coming to Jesus somewhere in the Middle East after killing hundreds of men.  Nik called him the toughest man he had ever met.  This man reached a point where he could only see blood on his hands, blood that wasn’t there.  He had a dream with a scarred man who told this tough man that he was Jesus.  He knew from the dream that if he could find Jesus he could get the blood off.  It took him over a year to find a copy of the Bible, and to find out how to get Jesus in his life.

Eventually he did and the blood no longer haunted him.  He only had a copy of the Scriptures to figure out what his new life would look like.  He began smuggling Bibles and Christian materials throughout his region.  He faced much danger because the word was out that he left Islam.  He had been beaten, jailed, starved and left for dead but he was still alive and living for Jesus.  He was willing to die, but the thing he now feared the most was that his wife and children would have to die for Jesus.

Nik asked the tough man the question that he himself needed an answer to, and this man gave it.  Nik asked him, “If Jesus worth it?  Is He worth your life?  Is He worth the lives of your wife and your children?”  This tough man wrapped his arms around Nik and wept.  After several minutes he lifted his head, looked Nik in the eyes, nodded and declared, “Jesus is worth it.  He is worth my life, my wife’s life, and He is worth the lives of my children! (p 286, The Insanity of God).

It has been said that everyone needs something worth living for and dying for.  We might not face the persecution of Christians in other countries, but we need to come to the same resolution the tough man declared: “Jesus is worth giving my life wholly and unreservedly to.  He is worth more than all of the stuff I have accumulated, or things that I place above Him in my life.  He is worth hard times, He is worth denying ourselves and being misunderstood.”  Jesus is worth it!