The Audit of Jesus Christ
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
3:4b If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more:
3:5 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;
3:6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.
3:7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.
3:8 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
3:9 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.
3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,
3:11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
3:12 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.
3:13 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,
3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
- When we think of an audit, what comes to mind? IRS, scrutiny of our records, frustration over the income that we have or don’t have,… nervousness—why? Someone is looking through our stuff and seeing if what we have claimed is true. Then a determination is made as to whether we owe more in taxes or not.
- Scholar Marcus Bockmuehl has described Apostle Paul’s reflection on his experience of coming to faith in Jesus as The Audit of Jesus Christ. This experience described in Acts 9 describes Paul’s being confronted by Jesus in a spectacular way. Here and as he began to practice his faith, committing himself to living for Jesus, he re-evaluated what he considered real gains or assets and losses in life.
- We may not be knocked to the ground and blinded for three days as Paul was, but we are encouraged along with the Philippians to review where we’ve come from as we make progress to where we are going.
- Paul considers all the things he thought of as pedigrees or his assets: strict adherence to religious laws, especially circumcision, being from a particular tribe within Israel and part of an elite sect known as the Pharisees, and knowledge of Hebrew. In the context of a spiritual audit, he now sees them as meaningless in comparison with his relationship with Jesus.
- Paul has given up all status markers that previously would have meant something to him and to others, all the things he would have bragged about. He recognized that Jesus, the one who had every right to revel is his glory as the Son of God, did not exploit his position but humbled himself, even to the point of death on the cross (Philippians Ch. 2). Jesus is the real status symbol.
- In today’s times we can get caught up straining after the wrong things thinking that they alone add value to our lives or define us: financial position, marital status, homes/ address, cars, gender, titles or positions in and outside the church, tenure of church membership, sorority/ fraternity affiliation or membership in other types of groups, race, nationality and citizenship, even political party. While any of these things might contribute to our happiness and can be considered gifts from God—these things should not define us more than our relationship with Jesus. None of these things compares to the value we have in Jesus. Why? None of these things can offer us a reconciled relationship with God or eternal life. And these are important because this life is not all there is. Paul says he is pressing on, not having attained the greatest thing to be attained—the prize of the heavenly call (emphasis mine) of God in Jesus. (v. 14)
- What are the stories of success and failure we tell of ourselves, our families, our communities or our church that may need to be revised in the spotlight of God’s work in Christ to redeem and transform all of creation? Many of the things we may have held in high esteem are not as meaningful. The pandemic has helped to make this clear—forcing us to take stock of the things that are really important and meaningful in our lives.
- God searches and knows us (Psalm 139). God’s audit may be jolting, but then it can be liberating when we realize that when all is said and done, the debt we owe for things done that we shouldn’t have or things left undone that we should have done, also known as sin, has already been paid! We don’t have to puff up or boast, nor hang our heads in shame and discouragement. Jesus redefines the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- And not just for us, but for everyone. In his letter to the Philippians, particularly this chapter, Paul outlines a picture of God that is radically inclusive. [He was writing to put down the belief that the new converts had to adopt traditional Jewish practices before they could be accepted into the household of faith.]
- The things about which Paul had once boasted separated him from others. But believers in Jesus are united boasting in him and what he has done for them—setting us free from sin and reconnecting us to God in this life and forever in the life to come. Paul’s challenge for himself and all of us continues to be press on, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.
- All who worship God by the power of God’s Spirit belong to God, regardless of past or present circumstances.
- World Communion Sunday observed by a number of Christian denominations around the world celebrates this very unity in diversity that we have reflected on today. Regardless of our location, circumstances, or backgrounds if we put our faith and trust in Jesus, renouncing reliance on anything else, we are unified in Christ by the work of the Holy Spirit. Our online worship helps to highlight that point. We are scattered in many places yet gathered together in Jesus’ name.
Pray: Search us and know us, do a spiritual audit on us and root out anything unpleasing in us. We crave your righteousness that comes from you by faith. We want to know the power of Jesus’ resurrection. We confess our sin and thank you for your pardon and forgiveness. Help us to look forward and not behind and enable us to move on in our life of faith through our hope in Jesus. Amen