Tuesday

“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.” (v. 7)

Philippians 3:1-11 Tuesday 7 October 2014


Background

The call to discipleship offered by Jesus is an invitation tolive in a way which is often counter-cultural. Paul challenges thefollowers of Jesus not only to have a different value system interms of status, but also to seek to share in Christ's sufferings.But what does this mean?

Regarding status, it is clear that Paul believes that, in termsof the values by which he lived the earlier part of his life, hehad much of which he could boast. He came from the right familybackground (verse 5) and he followed the right religious practices(verse 6). However, his experience on the road to Damascus (see Acts9:1-9), had turned his value system upside down so that whatPaul previously saw as gain, he now considers as loss (verse7).

This is clearly something that Paul feels deeply about, becausehe repeats and expands this statement in the following verse (verse8) and claims that what he previously saw to be of great value, henow considers to be "rubbish". In making that statement, Paul hasprovided a problem for translators of the Bible. English versionsoften use a mild term such as "rubbish" (NRSV and NIV) or "refuse"(GNB), but the force of Paul's original word is stronger, ifsomewhat less polite. One commentator explains the meaning of theword as "dung, muck - both as excrement and food gone bad", whichperhaps more forcibly conveys the change which Paul feels has takenplace in his life.

In terms of Christ's sufferings, Paul speaks of wanting to knowChrist and "the power of his resurrection and the sharing of hissuffering by becoming more like him in his death" (v. 10). This isnot a desire for martyrdom, but is an expression of what it meansto become a cross-carrying disciple within the kingdom of God.Interestingly, Paul, in this significant verse, makes reference tothe power of Christ's resurrection before he mentions Christ'sdeath. It is through the power of Easter Day that we are enabled toface our own Good Fridays.


To Ponder

  • How can we engage with the society in which we live while atthe same time questioning (at least some of) its values?
  • Reflect on the powerful language of verse 10 in which Paulspeaks of knowing the power of Christ's resurrection and of sharingin Christ's sufferings. What does this mean for you today?


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