“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”
We are studying in Phillipians at church. Today we were in chapter three when something struck me. You know how you have read a passage of scripture 1000 times and on 1001 it is like brand new? That is kind of what happened to me today.
In the first part of the chapter, Paul tells us all of the reasons he has to put confidence in his flesh…his knowledge, his birth, his zeal, There is quite a long list of things that made him exceptional in the eyes of both the Romans and the Jews. My epiphany came with the word loss. Before I have always read this as “I am nothing. Jesus is everything” and actually, that is pretty much what he is saying. However, I have a new understanding of the word loss now so I am looking through new eyes.
After our fire, we had to inventory our total losses. That meant that we had to catalog every item that was ruined. Not only catalog it, but we had to know where we got it, how much we paid for it, serial numbers, model numbers, how old the item was and how much it would cost to replace it. It was tedious work calculating all that we lost in July without air conditioning or power. The definition of loss meant that an item was so damaged it was unusable. The smell was toxic, or it was growing mold and mildew, or it was warped or burned or melted. It may have been saturated with putrid water, or have a mountain of wet sheet rock on top of it. It was gross and you could not have paid me to take those items back. Loss. There was nothing good about these items. Even the ones we thought maybe we could save were beyond cleaning because of the depth of the poisonous gas.
So how does this relate? Our lives are a loss, just like our furniture. All the good, all the decorating we do in our lives to make things look nice is only a prop to hide the fact that we are a loss. Sin saturates and ruins even good lives. I believe that deep down, maybe even in our subconscious, we know this is true. When God opens the eyes of our hearts to see reality, we know it…if we are honest with ourselves.
Navigating the human experience is something we all have in common. Life can be hard. It doesn’t go exactly like we planned, and we seem to always carry the burden of what could have been. What should have been if we were just more… It doesn’t really matter how much you have or don’t have, or what your life experiences are, there is something in our hearts that KNOWS that there is more to life than what we have. As we move through, we catalog our losses. We know what we had and how much it was worth, though sometimes not until it is gone do we fully understand an item’s value.
Life is like trying to run in waist deep water. Heaviness surrounds us. It pushes us on all sides, and mainly we are happy just to remain upright, because we have all seen those that have not. But if there was a way to not only remain upright but to run unencumbered would you take it? Would you leave your burdens behind? This passage tells us how. Count it loss. Realize that nothing you can do will remove the pressure. You have to give up your life.
I am talking about the Grace of God, because even though our lives are loss, he sees more. He loves our loss and wants to redeem it. The more we know we can be is planted within us by him. Our desires to be fulfilled come directly from his throne. Only we cannot do it without HIM. If you can catch a small glimpse of this you will begin to breathe easier. Could it really be that simple, that opening our hearts honestly to God could save our lives? Could we feel the burden lift off our shoulders? The last part of the scripture answers these questions. “I want 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 to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” When our lives are loss, why do we try to hold on to them so tightly? If we surrender them, resurrection comes. I think that is why whenever grace is preached completely there is a response. People are moved. We know we cannot do life on our own. When the word of God’s grace goes forth you can almost feel a sigh of relief as the burdens are carried to the cross. It is then that we attain the resurrection from the dead life we are living. It is then that our lives have meaning. More is simple grace, simple belief and trust that what he says is true. Amazing grace how sweet the sound…