Back to the Future - Day 1
God, I come to you today with a past full of accomplishments and failures. Remind me that my identity in you is more than those things. You have defeated death and extended grace. Thank you for this gift. Amen.
Read: Philippians 3:4b-6, NIV
“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 is a letter from the apostle Paul to the first century church in Philippi. In it, Paul continually urges the church to embrace unity and humility. It can be safely assumed that there was some discord within this church as Paul spends much time encouraging its members to "agree in the Lord" (4:2). The disagreements may have been in regards to who was most qualified to lead. In the passage above, he lays out an impressive list of his own earthly qualifications: he was circumcised in accordance with Jewish law, born into an esteemed Hebrew tribe, well educated, and more. All of these qualifications would make Paul worthy of value according to the law of the day.
Today’s culture is heavily entrenched in assigning value based on performance, wealth, titles, and appearances. As the first person in my family to earn a college degree, I'm proud of that achievement and there have been times I've wanted people to know I hold that degree. Whether it's because I'm a female and I want my voice to be valued in a variety of forums or just because I'm a human with prideful tendencies, it's important to remember that my qualifications are valuable but they are not my identity and they do not earn me a spot in the kingdom of God. We can glean a lot from these early church communications and the takeaway here is that earthly qualifications, though we may strive to be justified through their merit, are of no consequence in the kingdom of God. Romans 3:28 reminds us that "a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law."
Do you hold any particular qualifications more tightly than others? As a church, let's remember that we are all image bearers of God and uniquely qualified to impact his kingdom regardless of our earthly accomplishments or lack thereof. This is truly good news and allows us to walk in God's grace! This truth will unify us in our pursuit of Christ so that our church can bear fruit and reach the world around us.
Lord, help me identify areas that I need to relinquish to you. Help me engage those around me with love and grace. Let me spread your good news and joy! Amen.