By Kris Robinson
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, 9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In 2015, the movie Inside Out came out, detailing what goes on inside a 14-year-old girl’s head. It quickly became one of my favorite movies, not just because it is kid-friendly, but because it is clever, amusing and insightful.
There is one scene in particular that comes to mind. The main characters, Joy (played by Amy Poehler) & Sadness, are trying to get back to ‘Headquarters’ so that they can make Riley happy again. In route, they find the character Bing-Bong, who supposedly knows his way around the place and can help them return quickly. So, Joy, being in a hurry, decides to heed Bing-Bong’s advice to take a shortcut through Abstract Thought despite Sadness’ objection. What is funny about this scene, is that the door through Abstract Thought is clearly marked with the word DANGER, yet Bing-Bong reads it as SHORT-CUT. What ensues is probably one of the most thoughtful scenes in a movie.
While Bing-Bong’s inability to read and Joy’s rash decision-making make for an entertaining scene, are we really any different than they are?
We’d like to think so!
Yet, when decisions to avoid things, or not do what God has told us not to, confront us; do we take the ‘long way’ or opt for the shortcut? And, when happiness seems attainable, do we choose short, easy and comfortable over long and progressive?
In the context of Pastor Dr. Willis’ sermon on Philippians 3:7-14, we heard about the many dangers Paul expressed in his letter; false doctrine, division, extremism & modernism, and over-reaction. Yet, while these are marked clearly as DANGER, and God objects to them, many Christians still shortcut their relationship with God and walk into these things without hesitating because they think what is making them happy is the right way to God.
This is what DANGER looks like:
False Doctrine: There are many Biblical warnings of false doctrine, yet would you know if you saw it? Christ says that “man does not live on bread alone, but on every word from the mouth of God.” Too many people, like baby birds getting fed by the momma bird, take in predigested food. In other words, they take someone else’s word for Scripture, not God’s! What would happen if more Christians actually spent 15-30 minutes a day reading their bible and time praying to Him for wisdom and understanding?
Division: Like the latter, there are also warnings about division amongst Christians; even Christ prayed for unity (John 17:20-23). In their book, Building the Body, Gary McIntosh & Phil Stevenson suggest that a healthy sign of a healthy church is one that prays constantly and consistently for unity. I’d say, if Christ prayed for it, isn’t it something that we should likewise?
Extremism: When Christ walked the earth, the religious leaders at the time had 600+ rules/regulations they followed; if that isn’t extreme I don’t know what is. That being said, Paul was the best of the best at keeping them; that’s why in verse 7 he “considers loss” doing life that way, because he realized you cannot replace grace with performance. Easy to get lost in performance, I know firsthand, that’s why I ask Him to help me see when I am being religious and instead make me more like Him.
Modernism: Using God as a means; “how can God make my life better?” & “how can I use Scripture to meet what I need?”, and rarely, if ever, sharing faith about Jesus. Also, having a twisted view of themselves, like the Pharisee in Luke 18:9-14. I like how Paul remedies this in Eph. 5:1 “Be imitators of God!” We should want to know Truth and live as if we do, for Him and not ourselves.
Over-Reaction: We can see specks in other’s eyes and yet do such a good job of avoiding the plank in our own! On the flip-side, some of us have dealt with the specks, yet do not help those who have planks. We are called to admonish and take care of our brothers and sisters; unlike Cain, we are our brothers keepers (Prov. 27:5-6).
In John 14:6, Christ says that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In other words, if we wish to avoid walking into DANGER, we don’t have to look any further than the perfect example set before us and live like it too! If so, what is your plan? Mine is to know God unlike ever before through studying His attributes, reading at least one book a month, and continuously improving in areas such as evangelizing, forgiveness, prayer and teaching.
We’ve all got a story to tell; what about going to the FLCC Facebook page and telling it?
Kris Robinson is an Assistant Pastor at Free Life Community Church helping teenagers & Millennials connect & transform their spiritual journey through Christ Jesus.