On paper, I’m doing pretty good. I grew up in church, and am a Bible College graduate- Magna Cum Lade, a holder of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Christian Ministry, a Youth worker since 2006, and Ordained Minister since 2011, having served at 3 churches, as a Youth worker at one, a youth minister at two churches, and a Senior Minister at two churches (I’ve served at three churches, and my service overlaps in both capacities in varying degrees). I’m a faithful husband to a wife who partners with me in the ministry, three of my four sons have given their lives to the Lord and all four regularly serve alongside me and my wife in ministry (though the five-year-old doesn’t quite get it yet). Here’s the thing about all my accomplishments: they mean absolutely nothing. Don’t get me wrong, God has called me to each of these accomplishments (Lord, help me with my student loans, I’m still paying Bible College off!), but before Him, not a single one qualifies me to be with Him. Yes, they all require sacrifice, but none of these works “get me in good with the big guy,” as I’ve heard some put it. As Paul says, compared to knowing Christ and making Him known, they are all rubbish (Philippians 3:7-8).
I don’t boast or brag in these accomplishments, I serve the Lord despite them! I am a worm, and often must go before the Lord and say, “are you sure you want to use me?” I feel so unworthy before Him; that is because I am! It is Christ, and Christ alone, who is worthy. We have no credentials when we stand before God. We can’t go to church enough, serve enough, give enough, pray enough, potluck enough or do enough to earn our way in to God’s graces. It all comes down to knowing Christ. Do I know Him or not? Am I intimate with Him or not? And this is the question we all must ask ourselves. God is not impressed with our resumes: how can one who breaths out stars and names each one, who ordered the cosmos so neatly that it provides for life on this speck of dust, who owns the cattle on a thousand hills and needs nothing from us, and whose thoughts outnumber the sands of the sea when it comes to each one of His people be impressed with anything we can do? If we could earn our way in to God’s favor, Christ died needlessly!
But it is because He lived, and died, and rose again and lives still that we have any hope at all. It is because He obediently lived and His blood paid the penalty of our sin that we are free from sin and death. It is because Christ is the great High Priest, sitting at the throne at the right hand of the Father advocating for His people that the Father remembers our sins no more. Our credentials mean nothing before God. But what a friend we have in Jesus! Stand upon Him, know Him intimately, and this is our hope for security in eternity!
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, 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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.