I spent a lot of time this past week reading Philippians 3. You know, the part where Paul says, "You think you've got stuff to brag about? Listen to what I've got." The part where he proceeds to rattle off a mile-long list of credentials that qualify him for saint status in God's Ineffable Hall of Greatness.
Since I've been clutching my own list of what-makes-me-great credentials these days, and fighting tool and nail with God to let me keep it, Paul's question reeled me in. And what can I say? I engaged.
Yes, I do have stuff, I said. See? And I pulled out my very own list -- not a long one, mind you, but a good one. One whose contents mattered, at least to me.
So then Paul pulled his out, too. Oh, I thought. He has a real list, and a long one. Whereas I'm just speculating here.
Because I'm the creator of this list. I'm the one who fawns and pets at it often. I'm the one who tailors it whenever it needs tailoring. And I'm the one hoping it gets me into that Hall of Greatness -- and maybe even nabs me a seat at the banquet high table on opening night.
Whereas Paul had legitimate stuff that even God couldn't dispute. I mean, come on: who else besides Jesus could claim blamelessness under the law?!
Reading Paul's list, I grew significantly smaller. Compared to him, I fell way short. Of course, this shouldn't have surprised me. Just a few days ago, after all, I fell short of Jesus, too.
But then, if you can believe it, Paul flips the tables again. "See this great list of mine?" he asks. "I count it all as trash. I'm throwing it away right now! Just watch me." Rip, rip, rip.
Why does he do this?! The only sane answer is the one he gives for himself:
"I count them as rubbish, in order that I main gain Christ and be found in Him . . . that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (vv. 8-11)
Somehow, Christ's value is worth losing our lists for. And what's more, we're invited into an altogether mysterious life in return. Because let's face it: What, exactly, does it mean to be found in Christ? And what, after that happens, does it mean to be resurrected from the dead? I sure wish I knew. But I have a feeling I'm about to find out in a very real way.