4 November 2010Philippians 3:3-8
"Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ." (v.7)
The church at Philippi was one of the earliest ones to have a
predominantly Gentile (non-Jewish) membership.
The Judaizers (a party of Jewish Christians in the early Church), believed that circumcision and observance of the Mosaic Law were necessary for salvation. They tried to impose these on the Gentile converts, and also implied that Jewish practices were still compulsory for Jewish Christians.
In today's passage, Paul vehemently urges the Philippians to steer clear of the Judaizers. In fact, in the verse immediately preceding today's passage, he actually refers to them as dogs!
Again, Paul leads by example. As far as Jewish credentials go, he has the full package and could easily fulfil all the criteria the Judaizers were trying to impose on the Philippians. He makes this point by giving us the full list: details of his circumcision, his ancestry, his qualifications as a teacher of the law ... even his track record of persecuting Christians before he became one himself.
However, Paul realises that salvation in Christ is not dependent on our pedigree or our achievements or traditions, but on faith in Christ alone. And so he is prepared to give up every one of those achievements and traditions - even going so far as to regard them all as loss (some translations say "as dung"!)
Which of your life's achievements are you most proud of? How much of a challenge would it be to "regard [them] as loss" for the sake of Christ?
Why is faith more important than things such as circumcision or Baptism that mark our identity with religions such as Judaism or Christianity?