The Surpassing Greatness
I made mention on Sunday of the life Paul lived before he met Christ on the road to Damascus. His life would have been in many ways very well respected and secure.
He was a prominent Pharisee, a zealous Hebrew of Hebrews (Phil 3:5). Though the Pharisees get a very bad press these days, they were well liked and highly respected by the Jewish people then.
Not only was Paul a prominent and passionate Jew, he was born a Roman citizen. In my passport there’s a paragraph that says:
“Her Britannic Majesty’s Secretary of State requests and requires in the Name of Her Majesty all those whom it may concern to allow the bearer to pass freely without let or hindrance and to afford the bearer such assistance and protection as may be necessary.”
What did I do to earn this approval from her Majesty the Queen? Very little! I was born in the UK and therefore automatically entitled to a passport and all the rights of citizenship.
Things were very different in the Roman world Paul would have known. You had to earn citizenship, or buy it. The fact Paul was born a Roman citizen suggests his father or grandfather may have fought for Rome (possibly learning the family trade of tentmaking in the army).
A very impressive and rare CV indeed! But when Paul met the risen Christ his identity and his priorities were radically changed.
“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death”Philippians 3:7–10
Like Paul, we who have met with the risen, living Lord Jesus should consider knowing Christ as the great goal of our lives. I have a British passport, but that is as nothing compared to the knowledge that I am, in Christ, a citizen of heaven!
May we learn to live as those who walk with Christ as King. May we be unafraid to stand out from the crowd as we live by Kingdom values and be willing to refuse to conform to the world around us because we belong to another world. May we not lose our saltiness and let our light shine for Christ. It will not always be comfortable, we will not always be popular, but this is the life to which we are called in Christ Jesus our Lord, and it is here we find true and lasting peace. Everything our world values seems insignificant compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing him.
Please note, devotional articles will continue after the summer holiday period.