On a recent Sunday morning I was struck with the brokenness that surrounded me. From the sisters sitting on my row to the families sitting across the aisle, from the song leader to the speaker, from the weeping daughter on the front row to her terminally ill dad who was baptized into Christ that day, from the man who led communion to the person in my own skin, every week I worship with a building full of people who are battered and worn by life’s storms. And we are winning. We are torn and broken down but we are not defeated by illness, betrayal, injustice, disappointment, grief, abuse or any of Satan’s schemes. We hobble into the church building on weakened legs carrying weary spirits, but we are a family and we are worshiping the one, true God. We are winning this race called life. And Satan is very unhappy.
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,… Philippians 3:7,8
Knowing Jesus as my Lord and Savior is worth whatever I put up with in the time before I join Him in heaven. Knowing He is near at any moment, knowing He loves me unconditionally, knowing He will lead me if I will follow, knowing He will work out whatever comes my way in this life into my eternal good, knowing He saves me with joy and thankfulness, these are the most precious gifts He has given to me. And they are worth much more than anything this life has to offer.
…and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,… Philippians 3:9
Praise God! I don’t have to be good enough to know Jesus. I don’t have to pass a test. I don’t have to meet a certain metric to have Jesus as my Friend and Redeemer. My righteousness comes from God Himself! I just have to believe in Him and act like I believe in Him. What good is believing if I don’t act like I believe? (James 2:14-26) If I choose to accept His gift of salvation, would it not be foolish to try to accept it any other way than the way He offers it to me–through obedient baptism? To act like I believe Him means I yield to His will and obey Him.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. Galatians 3:26, 27
If God redeems me from the penalty of all of my sin, if He bestows on me the righteousness that identifies me as His child, should I not wear that righteousness proudly? Is there any thing in this life that matters more than wearing Jesus? Illness? Heartache? Chronic pain? Poverty? Drugs? Alcohol? Injustice? Pleasure of any kind? Abuse? Wealth? Accomplishment? Pride? There is nothing in this life, or any life, that is worth more, that is more precious, that is more worthy of my complete devotion than being a child of God. Nothing. Ever. No thing.
…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:10, 11
He will not leave me behind to rot in an eternity without Him. Wearing His righteousness, relying on His guidance and His strength, I am secure in knowing He will come back for me to resurrect me from my decaying humanness. If He leaves me here to a ripe old age, each day I walk knowing He will come back to get me. If He returns tomorrow to claim His own, I have no fear. He is coming to get me!
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,… Philippians 3:12, 13
I press on. I don’t give up. No matter how badly I mess up. No matter how much I hide the righteousness God gives me. No matter how far I have walked away from Him, over and over again. No matter how much injustice and abuse I endure. No matter how much heartache tears at my soul. I forget what is past. I cannot change it. I cannot wish it away. I cannot fix it. I forget what is past. I press on and reach for what lies ahead–resurrection, reward for enduring, the end to my suffering. I take off the rags of sin and selfishness, wash off the dirt of self-pity and again wear proudly the clothing that is Christ, and I press on.
…I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14
Nothing is worth missing the prize of heaven. Of eternity with God. Of leaving behind all that is ugly and wretched and horrific about this world, forever. Nothing.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
“Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10
Endure to the end of suffering. It will end. My brokenness will be healed. And I win!
All Bible quotes are from Zondervan’s Classic Reference Bible, New American Standard Bible–Updated Edition copyright 1999 by Zondervan
NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.