I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
Philippians 3 v.8-9
When Saul met the risen Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus his life was stood on its head as, picking up the picture that Jesus pained in the gospels, he found the Pearl of Great Price.
Jesus told this brief parable recorded for us in Matthew 14 v.45
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
It is too easy to miss the impact of that brief story. A little imagination is helpful here. The man was a merchant which means he was in business and he was in business to make money and the implication is that he had a lot! He would have had money in the bank, a nice home with all the mod-cons of his day and culture, and he lacked nothing. Then the chance of a lifetime was presented to him. A hugely valuable pearl. Something he had to have. Jesus doesn’t say he took out a bigger mortgage or sold a few stocks and shares but, and I think we may miss the dramatic punchline of the story, he sold everything he had so valuable was the treasure offered to him.
Gone the house, the bank balance, the business. This was make or break, all or nothing and he went for it – selling everything. Jesus emphasised the point by telling just before this a very similar parable about a man (a New Testament detectorist!) finding treasure so valuable that her sold everything to buy the land where it was located. We are meant to be bowled over by these two assessments of the value of the Kingdom of God and its King – Jesus.
So, the challenging question we all face on a daily basis is ‘How valuable to me is knowing Christ Jesus?
Do I give him ‘lip service’ of life service’? The first is easy, the second is much harder living as I do in a culture that is increasingly anti-Christian and when I have so much material comfort.
I recall the following comment from, I think a Kenyan believer, contrasting the rich west with the poverty of much of Africa and how it impacted his relationship with Jesus.
‘You have Jesus and things, we just have Jesus!’
Do we find that the abundance of ‘things’ and the abundance of riches we have, get in the way of Paul’s wholehearted commitment to Jesus Christ. If we are honest I think we have to admit that there is a real danger of this happening.
So what should we do? We should take an honest look at our lives and ask ourselves ‘Is everything we have and cherish ‘rubbish’ when compared with knowing and serving oChrist Jesus as Lord?’ It is a question which is likely to reveal some uncomfortable answers but dealing with them in the light of who Jesus is and what he has done for us will be, as Paul found, transformative for us and a blessing to others.
May God help us to live lives that are radically different to the majority of those among whom we live and work and have our being.