Are you living in the right neighborhood?

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Paul was a stud and he had every reason to be a stud. He was a social elite, an intellectual genius. He was the cherry on top of the creme when it came to Jewish standards. Every parent wanted their kid to be like Paul, pre his encounter with Jesus! Wives would say to their husbands, “Why can’t you be more like Paul?” Husband’s got sick of hearing about Paul. But in Philippians 3 Paul does his own introduction speech, not because he is obsessed with himself, but because he has every reason to speak into the lives of the Jews. No one, and we mean no one, has the credentials that this dude is carrying, and in an instant, all that had meaning, clout, among a nation that worshipped the Mosaic Law and being religiously elite, Paul wrote off everything he had achieved as cow dung! “I consider everything a loss.”

This word loss is translated to mean scraps thrown to a dog, and from a medical term, excrement! Appealing right? As Barclay says in his commentary on Philippians, “I found the Law and all its ways of no more use than the refuse thrown on the garbage heap to help me to get into a right relationship with God. So I gave up trying to create a goodness of my own; I came to God in humble faith, as Jesus told me to do, and I found that fellowship I had sought so long.”

“A goodness of my own” Man, how many of us have been caught driving in that neighborhood. Forget driving, how many of us have bought a house in the neighborhood of credentials, empty worth built by human hands, of which we stand back and say, “look at what I have done?” Creating a goodness of my own!

These are offensive words that Paul writes here!

Willam Barclay goes on to say, “Paul had discovered that a right relationship with God is based not on Law but on faith in Jesus Christ. It is not achieved by any man but given by God; not won by works but accepted in trust.”

BUT,

what gets me fired up is when Paul says, I consider everything a loss, because of the surpassing worth of KNOWING Christ Jesus…I want to KNOW Christ and the POWER of his resurrection, being like him in his suffering.”

What is he saying?

The greek word here for know is gnosis and let me tell you what it means. We can take it back to Genesis 4 when “Adam knew Eve; and she conceived and bore Cain” Yep, the night they knew each other is the night they did the dirty, but it wasn’t dirty because they were married and holy. The verb of this word KNOW indicates the most intimate knowledge of another person! It was Pauls desire to know Christ in the most intimate way he could know Jesus, and for Paul, that meant suffering in what ever form God saw fit for Paul. NOW, who wants to buy a house in that neighborhood…I know what your thinking, “uhhh, not me, I don’t want to suffer!” Yea, it’s ok, I get that.

BUT,

to know Christ is a guarantee that the same POWER that resurrected Him from the dead lives in you and me! It’s a guarantee that Christ is ALWAYS with us, not matter what. It’s a guarantee that there is always HOPE. It’s a guarantee that in suffering there is PEACE which surpasses all understanding. It’s a guarantee that death is not the end and Heaven awaits. It’s a guarantee that we will always be UNITED with Christ. It’s a guarantee that we will BARE FRUIT in all circumstances.

Who wouldn’t want to know Christ?

I immediately think of Joesph and Job. These guys were on to something long before Paul said “I consider everything a loss.” Joseph ended his trail with the words, “what you meant for evil, God intended for good” and Job’s words have deeply rooted emotions, “the Lord gives, the Lord takes away, but blessed be the name of the Lord” The had been brought to place where nothing mattered but the Lord, NOTHING!

Are you there?

If not, neither was Paul yet.

Philippians 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained this, or that I am already all complete but I press on to try to grasp that for which I have been grasped by Jesus Christ.”

Paul had pulled up into the neighborhood of wanting to KNOW Jesus and he was ready buy a house. It was the most unattractive neighborhood in the city, but the amenities where eternal!

May you be willing to buy in that neighborhood.

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