Most of us have slaved over a resume at one time or another. It is one sheet upon which you inform a potential employer about all your good qualities in an effort to distinguish your work and experience from the other hundreds of resumes. A resume is your way of introducing yourself, and giving that potential employer a chance to determine if they want to get to know you any better.
In Philippians 3, Paul presents us with his religious resume. And what a resume it was. Paul has bragging rights. If it’s ethnicity, family background, education, denominational affiliation, or accomplishments – I don’t care what criteria you wish to judge by – Paul has it in his resume. Paul has all the right stuff.
Yet, Paul looks over his religious resume – his bloodline, his knowledge of Hebrew, his learning, his commitment, his enthusiasm, his adherence to every jot and tittle of the law – and says that compared to life in Jesus Christ, all of those things, are rubbish. Rubbish? Really? It makes one wonder about my accomplishments and achievements reflected on my resume. Doesn’t it?
In Paul’s day, many people confused their religious resume with faith in God. Their resume was built on an individual’s accomplishments rather than on what God had done in, through, and for them. That is still true of us today. People ask us about our faith and we talk about affiliation and accomplishments. And no wonder.
We’re told to be productive, to make a name for ourselves, to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps. We’re told to harness the power of positive thinking, to tap the secret deep inside ourselves, to be self-made people. We are self-made, on our own, and completely self-sufficient. The problem with focusing inward and cataloging my accomplishments is that, after awhile, I actually begin to believe my own hype, and I begin to think that I’m all that and more.
Then, Paul reminds us of where our priorities are. You think you’re something? You think your accomplishments are something to be proud of? You think it’s all about you? Turns out it’s all about having a relationship with Christ. It’s bigger than me. It’s about my values, and my attitudes, and my behaviors being shaped by Jesus Christ. It really has nothing to do with what people think of us, or if we’re keeping up the right religious appearances. At the end of the day, none of it matters. My accomplishments and affiliations are nothing more than rubbish.
I know that sounds so counter intuitive to what society tells us, but in reality this is good news. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. I don’t have to be Mega Christian. I can be myself, someone with the same doubts and fears and shortcomings as anyone else in the room. I realize that everything does not rise and fall on my own personal accomplishments, because I am part of something greater than myself. I am part of Christ, I am connected to His body, and this is now the greatest and most important thing going on in my life.
So take the first steps or continued steps to sacrifice your ego on the altar of God. If you are one who has worked on being a self-made Christian by trying to beef up your religious resume, consider Paul’s message to press on even more diligently in winning the prize, which is a life with Jesus.
1. What is Paul’s number one priority? What is our number one priority?
2. What does he consider rubbish in comparison to knowing Jesus?
3. Are there things you put in front of God? What would you be willing to give up in order to know Him better?
4. Who do you know that seems to put Jesus first? How can you tell?