4If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5circumcised 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; 6as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.
8More 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
9and 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. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12Not 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. 13Beloved, 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, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.
We opened by praying Graham Kendrick's Knowing you, Jesus based on Philippians 3:7-11:
All I once held dear, built my life upon,
all this world reveres and wars to own,
all I once thought gain I have counted loss,
spent and worthless now compared to this.
Knowing You, Jesus, knowing You.
There is no greater thing.
You're my all, You're the best, You're my joy,
my righteousness; and I love You, Lord.
Now my heart's desire is to know You more,
to be found in You and known as Yours,
to possess by faith what I could not earn,
all surpassing gift of righteousness.
Oh, to know the power of Your risen life,
and to know You in Your suffering,
to become like You in Your death,
My Lord, so with You to live and never die.
Three weeks ago on Lent 2 we talked about Philippians as the Epistle of Joy! This week on Lent 5 and next week for Lent 6 (Palm/Passion) Sunday, the second reading again will be from Philippians. The apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church at Philippi where he was founding pastor and probably a kind of mission developer. Philippians is one of Paul's captivity letters from when he was incarcerated (by humans)—probably in Rome. The readings for today and next Sunday reveal Paul captured by and captive to Jesus Christ as a no holds barred prisoner of his Lord!
The church's year of grace has moved into the conclusion of Lent and is getting ready for Easter. That means we're seriously getting into some theology of the cross. Theology of the Cross was at the heart of Martin Luther's theology, and if we read both the OT and NT carefully, we discover it's at the heart of God's self-revelation.
In very short:
• Theology of the cross is about God's own self-revelation, especially in Christ crucified. Theology of the cross is about God's often hidden, paradoxical both/and presence in the comment things, people, and situations.
• Theology of glory is about human ideas and imaginings of how a powerful, all-knowing, sovereign God might act. How humans wish God would behave?
This section of Philippians starts out with the Apostle Paul's / St. Paul's / Saul of Tarsus' résumé, CV, biography. Paul loves to make lists: fruits/gifts of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23; bads of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21... Paul goes on to describe how he wants to become like Jesus Christ. This Paul does not use the words disciple or follower or related; for him it's always about being "in Christ," the organic incorporation into Jesus' death and resurrection that God accomplishes in each of us at our baptism.
Again we need to remember 98% of the time for Paul, "law" means the sacrificial and dietary laws and circumcision. He does not mean the Ten Commandments or Jesus' Great Commandment capsule summary.
Although in Philippians 4:9 different translations read either "faith in Christ" or "faith of Christ," faith of Christ that's about Jesus infinite faithfulness probably is more accurate and almost definitely was Paul's intent.
Our organic incorporation into Jesus Christ? For Paul, the gospel is Death and Resurrection, so baptism into Jesus' death and resurrection re-creates us as a gospeled people, gospeled community, as gospeled individuals.