7 I thought things like that were really something great. But now I consider them to be nothing because of Christ. 8 Even more, I consider everything to be nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. To know him is worth much more than anything else. Because of him I have lost everything. But I consider all of it to be garbage so I can know Christ better. 9 I want to be joined to him. Being right with God does not come from my obeying the law. It comes because I believe in Christ. It comes from God because of faith. 10 I want to know Christ better. Yes, I want to know the power that raised him from the dead. I want to join him in his sufferings. I want to become like him by sharing in his death. 11 Then by God’s grace I will rise from the dead.
When I read this passage, what stands out to me is how clearly Paul has found his entire identity in Jesus Christ. All the gains that he had previously experienced, such as his birth right, culture, religion & position, he now considers as a loss when compared to knowing Jesus. Given that Paul writes this as a prisoner who had little to no freedom or authority – a position in stark contrast to how he used to live – Paul’s claims aren’t just empty words. The passage tells us that Paul has not only found Jesus, but has found himself in Jesus, so that who he was no longer matters.
This presents a very clear challenge to me straight away. If I’m truly honest with myself, how much of my identity is based on my own choices, my job, my family, the roles I fill, how others see me, (the list could go on) – and how much is based simply on the fact that I am found in Jesus? I’m challenged to spend more time with Jesus, letting Him mould me into who he wants me to be. In Him is where my – and your – true identity can be found.
Jesus, thank you that we can place our identity safely & securely in you. Thank you that being in relationship with you is greater than anything else we can do or be on our own. Help us to be found in you each & every day.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko