October 1

Philippians 3:4b-9

“More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ…” vs. 8

When Paul, the zealous credentialed Pharisee, was encountered by the Risen Christ, the trajectory of his life changed completely. It wasn’t that he’d been a shameful sinner, he’d in fact lived a life that was beyond reproach. He was blameless with regard to the law, what we would call a pillar of society. And he gave up his own righteousness and became known instead as the “chief of sinners.” His story is a shocker, mostly because it’s the opposite of what we’ve been taught to aspire to. Our congregations and our culture have told us that the way to salvation is an upward journey, that as we put aside our sinful nature and practice obedience, we grow in favor with God. Like Jacob’s ladder, every rung leads us higher and higher and one day we will attain righteousness. In truth, the way to enlightenment and salvation is a journey downward–we put aside our own righteousness in order to be embraced by the Friend of Sinners. And that experience of being loved for who we are, and not for who we should be, is worth more than any honor or degree the world can bestow. We don’t have to go up to meet Jesus; he comes down to where we are! Praise God!

Thought for the Day: Why does a blameless person even need to know Jesus?

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