From Boxes to Oceans
Lord, save me from thinking that I know You so well that I only hear from You what is comfortable and familiar.
Read PHILIPPIANS 3:1-11
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“I pray that you… may… grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:17-18). A great life goal!
Checking the boxes has become an imperative in our target-driven culture. Whether in business or government, in education or even the marriage market, it seems as though everything is measured and valued according to quantifiable criteria. And yet, when common sense and reality take a step back, the boxes are often inadequate and the checks don’t display the truth. Paul checked all the boxes in the righteousness evaluation, both through the accident of elite Jewish birth and sheer effort. His impressive CV surpassed that of any of his Jewish opponents who might come sniffing around the church.
Then Paul met Jesus. Suddenly, none of the pedigree, none of the accolades, none of the spiritual achievements matter one jot: in fact, they are a joke, a distraction, and utter rubbish in comparison. Knowing Jesus, whom he calls “my Lord” only here, frolicking in the vast ocean of his goodness and power, abandoned to the expansive gift of divine righteousness, rendered Paul’s own checked boxes somewhat redundant and limiting. The single-minded pursuit of perfection according to the Jewish law is gloriously redirected into a passionate quest to know Christ more fully, sharing in his sufferings and his resurrection power.
When you are tempted to keep an account of your good works or to measure your faith against another’s, picture a paltry confining square on a lifeless piece of paper. When you get bogged down with how well you are scoring in witnessing or prayer, leading a Bible study or dealing kindly with difficult neighbors, crumple it up and throw it in the trash. Raise your empty hands in wonder and gratitude and sheer joy that you–you–are “in Christ Jesus” (1:1). There is no box in the universe big enough to contain him, no check that will ever make a mark beside such a vibrant explosion of grace.
What are the reasons Paul gives for having confidence before God “in the flesh”? In verses 8-9, Paul outlines what is theologically called “imputed righteousness.” Describe it in your own words as if you were sharing that truth with a seeker.
Lord Jesus Christ, today my prayer is very simple: I want to know You! I want to know You more.