What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:8 NIV)
If ever there was someone who could boast about his Jewish identity markers, it would be Paul. In the First Century world Paul lived in, Paul’s record of dedication to his Jewish upbringing was to say the least, impeccable. They were some people in the church at Philippi who were trying to bring back circumcision as an identity marker in being a Christian. The more Jewish one is, the closer one is to God. Paul will have nothing to do with such narrow attitudes.
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. (Philippians 3:4b-6 NIV)
Paul was at the top of his game. Yet, he declares in the next verse: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. (Philippians 3:7 NIV) Actually for Paul, it is not that he found Christ, but that Christ found him. It is not that he knows Christ,` but that Christ knows him. Grace is God taking the initiative to save and rescue us. This is the most important thing in Paul’s life.
In the 1990’s tennis star Boris Becker was at the very top of the tennis world, yet he was on the brink of suicide. He said, “I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed. It’s the old song of movie stars and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything, and yet they are so unhappy. I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.” Becker says that you can literally be at the top of your game and yet feel no inner peace. Celebrity is the creation of the media and the paparazzi. What matters most the God is not how people look at us but how God looks at us. God knows us through Jesus Christ. It is not that we find Christ, but Christ finds us. It is not that we know Christ, but Christ knows us. Grace is God taking initiative to save and rescue us. Everything else in life is loss.