Gains and Losses/October 7, 2018

Second Baptist Oct. 7, 2018
Gains and Losses 

Philippians 3:1-11

Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Watch out for those dogs, those evildoers, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by his Spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reasons for such confidence.If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] 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, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

I belong to an investment club.  That doesn’t mean I have any money to invest, but it is a joint venture of anywhere from a dozen to twenty people who pool their money into investments, meet once a month for lunch, and generally have a good time seeing what their money is or isn’t doing. The gist of our conversation each month is about “Gains and losses.”  Sometimes we have pretty good months, other times we see our bottom line shrink.  Nobody gets terribly worked up over it, in fact, it is quite common for us to laugh and joke about investing in a certain company figuring we will do so until we go broke.

The truth of it is, life is made up of gains and losses.  How many times have I heard people say something like, “My grandson was born the same year my husband died.  It seems that that is the way it happens.  Life comes and it goes.”   We have gains and losses in our day-to-day lives. The loss of a job might bring opportunity for something new and exciting.  As Christians, we sometimes recognize that God closes one door of ministry opportunity, but then opens another door.  Gains and losses.   We are surrounded by them.

In today’s text, it is no different.  Paul recognizes that in his own life, there needs to be some losses in order for there to be gains.  However, Paul puts a little different twist on it.  He states in verses 7-8:  But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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.  He is talking about priorities.  All the things the world thinks are important is rubbish compared to the matchless grace of Christ.   He is talking about his reputation as a good Jewish Pharisee adept at interpreting the law – All RUBBISH.  His status as being from the tribe of Benjamin – ALL RUBBISH.   A zealous persecutor of Christians – all rubbish.

Let’s put this in context.  Paul begins this section of his letter to Philippi by warning them not to be swayed by those who would deceive them into believing that they had to go back to their former system of Jewish belief.  Circumcision and dietary laws were the way to be a good Jew. 

Paul should know.  Look at his words here: “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews….”   He goes on to say that he was a Pharisee.  Nobody keeps the law like a Pharisee.   However, he then takes us back to the central focus of the gospel.  It’s not keeping all the “dos and don’t”.  Here it  says, But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 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.”

We can apply this to today’s church as well.  Is serving the poor important?  YES, but not without the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. Is our church building important?  Yes, but not without the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ. Paul is basically saying, if you leave the centrality of Christ out of anything we do as a congregation or as an individual, it is nothing but rubbish.  It becomes meaningless, worthless, trash.  

Today is World Communion Sunday.  I always commemorate this day which is Celebrated annually on the first Sunday of October.  It is exciting to me to think that all over the world on this Sunday, Christians of every language, every continent, and every ethnicity is gathered at the table to celebrate the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ.

 This table represents exactly what Paul is talking about, which is regarding Jesus Christ who came down from heaven and entered the world as a human being.  This table represents his sacrifice and death, and his universal offer of redemption to those who would believe.  This table represents the unity of those from around the world who worship, speak and live differently – but are focused on the surpassing worth of Jesus Christ. This thought gives me goosebumps.  Christians around the world are doing the same thing with the same purpose in mind, to honor and worship Christ.  People all over the world are gathering at the table in a spirit of agape love. For these moments, we put aside everything else as “Rubbish”, and Jesus Christ is our central focus and primary day-to-day pursuit.   Amen