by Dorette Saunders
Imagine writing your autobiography. As part of the book deal, your publisher has asked that you include a chapter titled: “Nothing Is As Wonderful As…” with the rest of the line being filled in with the most defining moment in your life.
Imagine that the apostle Paul had such an assignment. After all, he is a prolific writer, having written more than half of the New Testament. Yet, all this occurs after he has had an eye-opening experience (or eye-closing, if we consider his temporary blindness on the road to Damascus- Acts 9:1-9) with Jesus.
At this period in his life, Paul who was once a persecutor of Christians, and is now a powerful preacher of the gospel, sums up what he has learned over the time he has come to believe in Jesus Christ. So in a letter to the church at Philippi, while in jail, Paul proclaims:
“But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ and to know that I belong to him” (Philippians 3:7-9, CEV).
How would we fill in the blanks as we look over our lives? What is the most wonderful thing that has happened to us? Would receiving Christ’s salvation come in the top five? Would it even make the cut?
Like us, Paul gravitated to some of the ideals that make us feel important. Paul cites his ethnicity (“a true Hebrew” – Philippians 3:5), his religious fervor (“Pharisee” - Philippians 3:5-6), and his academic upbringing (“a student of Gamaliel” - Acts 22:3).
We often pride ourselves on our ethnicity, religious beliefs and education, our stature in the communities in which we live, and even our wealth. Paul says he went down those roads, but they led nowhere. It all paled in comparison to having an intimate relationship with Christ Jesus. In the grand scheme of things, they were worthless. Actually, lower than worthless—he refers to it as “garbage.”
Are you and I holding on to “garbage” to give ourselves a sense of self-importance? What would you say makes you who you are? An introspective look should give you an answer.
Paul admits that he gave up what he once held as valuable, for Jesus. What have we given up for Jesus? Or are we still tottering between the things of the world, and the freedom and richness of life that Christ offers?
When Jesus’ disciple, Peter, wondered out loud what benefit would accrue to those who gave up everything to follow Jesus, Jesus assured him:
“All who have given up home or brothers and sisters or father and mother or children or land for me will be given a hundred times as much. They will also have eternal life” (Matthew 19:29, CEV).
And while we don’t honor God because we hope for a reward, Jesus’ love and grace overwhelms us. It summons our gratitude and makes us respond in love for our Savior… Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus our Lord!
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you are a pearl of great price. There is no one else like you. We thank you for your great sacrifice for us. Truly, we want to know you better. Truly, there is no one and nothing more wonderful than you! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.