take out the trash


Philippians 3:4b-14
For Sunday, October 5, 2008
Proper 22

This passage is about profit and loss. With this week’s events on Wall Street loss is something many of us may be feeling acutely at the moment. Here’s the good news: compared to knowing Christ, even the best stock on the Street on the very best day amounts to no more than rubbish. “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil 3:8).

Just as many financial experts are saying that it’s time to get the toxic paper out of the financial system, it’s time to get our toxic paper out of our lives. What in your life is cluttering your ability to know Christ, gain Christ, and be found in Christ?

One of the most pernicious forms of clutter can be our own spiritual pride or religiousity. We fall into the trap of thinking that we can earn our salvation. Yet Christianity is not about earning righteousness (v. 7). Rather it is all about knowing Christ, through letting go of everything else (v. 8), through grabbing hold of the righteousness that comes from God Himself (v. 9), through experiencing the life-transforming power of Christ’s resurrection (v. 10), and through experiencing the fellowship of Christ’s suffering (v. 11).

That last one might sound curious: what does it mean to experience the fellowship of Christ’s suffering? It means that truly following Christ will cost you something. if you pledge your allegiance to Christ there are those in the world who will treat you with hostility.

When the clutter is gone, we will realize as Paul did that what the Christian life is really about is “striving towards the goal of resurrection from the dead” (v. 11, NJB). To put a point on it this means that rather than spending an eternal death in hell we will spend an eternal life in heaven.

Clutter or Christ. The choice is ours. It’s time to take out the trash.

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