Wednesday, October 1, 2014

e-vos on hiatus

Dear e-votees-

This Sunday begins my 3 fortnight parental leave as we welcome our son into the world. I will not be posting e-vos during my absence. They will begin again upon my return in mid-November.

Prayers for a healthy and safe delivery would be appreciated.


e-vo for week of October 1

Dearest e-votees-

For this week we will look at the appointed lesson from Paul's letter to the church at Philippi.

The question comes down to really one choice: Do you want to rely on your own qualifications or would you rather rest in that which Christ has bought and secured through his death and resurrection on the cross?



If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 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 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:4b-14, NRSV

Saul was no slouch when it came to pedigree and credentials. He was in the right bloodline. He had abided the laws and expectations growing up and studying. He was eager, achieving and zealous. As far as one could be righteous and worthy Saul was. Perhaps were we to import him to modern day he would be an Eagle Scout, a 4.0+ over-achieving student, National Merit scholar with all the right connections and accomplishments to get into the elite schools and enter into a lucrative and successful career of his choosing. Saul knew what was good and right and theologically sound and was willing to do whatever was required to stamp out heresy up to serving as a coatrack during the stoning of Stephen. (see Acts 7:54-8:1)

But Jesus had a different plan for Saul (who became Paul, see Acts 13:9). Jesus knocked him off his high horse (literally) and called him to follow. After Paul was struck blind and healed (symbolic of his spiritual blindness, no doubt) Paul became a powerful leader and teacher in the church. Jesus got a hold of his life and began a good work in him.

As Paul sits in prison writing his letter to the Philippian church he tells them that his own curriculum vitae is like rubbish (very kind translation of the Greek word skubula which is better rendered "raw sewage" (perhaps upgraded to PG-13)) in comparison to the righteousness that comes from Christ. Paul basically wads up his credentials and his portfolio and tosses them into the fire so he can freely follow Christ without the constrictions of having to attain things on his own merit.

Paul says this in Philippians 1:3-6:

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

God has begun a good work in all of us, including Paul, and God is the one who will finish the work. We do well to keep our eyes on Jesus and not on our neighbor's stuff or test paper or achievements and certainly not spending too much time staring in the mirror. Christ is sufficient for us. Thanks be to God!!!

God, help run the race with Jesus as our focus and our pathway into the abundant life here and the heavenly call when this life is through. Amen.