Just Like Paul

Whatever happens, my dear brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. I never get tired of telling you these things, and I do it to safeguard your faith.

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more!

I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, 11 so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead! – Philippians 3:1-11

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Red Rose | Brenham, Texas | April 2020

I’ve never really had to give up anything of real significance in order to know or follow Christ. I left the church of my youth, but not the faith of my childhood. I left my home state and families, but not in order to embrace Jesus as Savior and Lord, but to serve him in his kingdom.

I’m not sure I have much basis to compare myself to Paul. I don’t have a strong religious pedigree. I don’t have a litany of suffering. I don’t have a wake of losses to disavow in order to know Christ.

But I do have one thing very much in common with Paul. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and I even want to suffer like him (in unwavering faith) and to experience the resurrection of the dead. 

Suffering like Christ may mean a harsh and unjust experience of martyrdom – like missionaries or Christians in Libya or China. But it can also mean any suffering that presses us against a belief that God is good and faithful. When we face suffering while holding to God’s goodness, love, and promises, and seeking his mercy, strength, and vindication we are suffering like Jesus. 

We don’t earn God’s favor by doing this. We express the gift of God’s righteousness to us in such an attitude of suffering. I want to know that and experience the salvation of God…just like Paul.

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