Friday, February 11, 2011

Collecting Rubbish

I don't know about you, but I like to collect rubbish.  Eventually I will need to sort out my sock drawer because there are many things in there besides socks.  A lot of what is in that drawer needs to be thrown out because it is rubbish.  Same with my desk drawer.  Same with the basket next to my chair in the living room.  Also true of some boxes left over from our move three years ago.

There are trinkets and mementos and broken odds and ends.  There reams of forgotten papers and piles of rusted paper clips.  There are old keys to doors left far behind.  There are old calendars and souvenirs from businesses that are now out of business.

It is all rubbish and I am a rubbish collector.
(Philippians 3:7–8 NKJV) But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
In my experience this is more difficult than it sounds.  Paul gave up his prestige as an upwardly mobile Pharisee in Israel in order to obey the truth about Jesus Christ and become an itinerant minister of that truth. Now he is hated and despised by those who once respected him.  Now he lives in poverty, danger and uncertainty.

But it doesn't matter to Paul.  His goal is Christ: not material wealth, not human respect, not physical comforts, not a secure retirement.
(Philippians 3:9 NKJV) and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;
The security that matters to Paul is in Christ.  It is not something Paul has developed for himself through his achievements.  It is not something that can be attained by human goodness or effort.  It is a right standing with God provided by God through faith in Christ.

This righteousness of God is a gift of grace, but it costs Paul everything.  The rich young ruler was told to sell everything he had and give it to the poor and follow Jesus.  (Matthew 19:21)  He didn't, but Paul did.  The original disciples "left all" to follow Jesus.

I would suggest that this is necessary for EVERYONE who really follows Jesus.  To follow Jesus is to follow Him regardless of the cost, the disrespect and the difficulties.  Jesus said, " narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life." (Matthew 7:14)
(Philippians 3:10–11 NKJV) that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. 
Fellowship means sharing.  Following Jesus involves sharing in His sufferings.  Jesus warned his disciples that they would have the same hostile reception that He had in this fallen world.  (John 15:18-20)  They might even be put to death.  Most of them WERE put to death.  Paul was ultimately put to death.  But even that didn't matter.

Why doesn't it matter?  Because our goal is not ease in this life, but "the resurrection of the dead."

We believe that God provides us with eternal life in Christ.  By faith we follow Him through thick and thin, regardless of the cost, in spite of the difficulties, even to death if necessary.  And then we believe His word that we will have life forevermore with Him.

Our goal cannot be our own pleasure, our own comfort, our own safety, our own reputation.  Our only goal should be the glory of God - our Savior.  We must stand for Him and His truth against all adversaries until we see God face to face.

Lord, help me to put down the rubbish and take up the cross - everyday.
(Matthew 16:24–26) Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

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