Counting it all as garbage

This year I've started helping with the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) program at school. We meet Mondays at lunch to read and discuss the Bible and pray. Every other week I give the lesson--tomorrow is my day to lead. This FCA thing is a huge step out of my comfort zone; I still don't feel qualified or comfortable leading kids in a study of the Bible...especially in front of Shane (our head FCA guy) who I consider to be a great spiritual leader. So I've been spending some time this weekend praying about what God would have me talk about. Last week Shane talked about the difference in being a believer and a follower and what our lives must look like in order to be a Christ-follower. The lesson stuck with me throughout the week, so I wanted to follow up with his lesson tomorrow. Here's what God's laid on my heart: Philippians 3:3-11.

In this section of Philippians, Paul writes about all the good stuff he's done:

"I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel [God's chosen nation] and a member of the tribe of Benjamin [Israel's first king, Saul, came from this tribe AND this tribe and the tribe of Judah were the first to return to Israel after the exile demonstrating great faith]--a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. As for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault" (Phil. 3:5-6).

Paul certainly has a reason to boast and think pretty highly of himself. Like Paul, I feel like believers--especially longtime believers--slip into this mentality. We think about all the good stuff we've done whether it's mission's work; being raised in a Christian home; being a moral person who makes good decisions and is involved in all the right activities; our regular attendance at youth group, church, Sunday school, or FCA...etc. When we think about all of the good stuff we've done, we tend to think all these things make us righteous and better in God's eyes. But immediately after Paul lists his credentials that really are incredible and would impress the socks of both his spiritual and non-spiritual friends--he writes:

"I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law, rather I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God's way of making us right with himself depends on faith" (Philippians 3:7-9).

We will not gain right standing with God based on what we do. Our salvation rests only in faith in Christ. So Paul considers everything he has done as garbage. But Paul doesn't stop there; he continues with:

"I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11).

And this is the tough part that begs a response from us as Christ followers. Are we willing to suffer and share in Christ's death so that we can experience the same renewing power that raised Christ from the dead? My life is pretty cushy right now. I've got a good job, a loving family, believing friends, stable finances. I'm not suffering right now. And lets face it, nobody wants to suffer. But if I'm going to take my belief in God one step further and call myself a Christ follower, then my life should look radically different than the world. Paul writes that he WANTS to suffer and share in Christs bloody death on the cross. This makes me stop and think: What am I willing to give up and count as garbage (even if it causes painful suffering) in order to gain Christ?

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