the rubbish of success
After a fantastic fall retreat, it was great to back at Quincy Street yesterday.
- We started our annual 4 week ‘pre-communion class’ for our 3rd-5th graders. I am so glad that every year we deliberately teach them about what is happening at the Lord’s Table. It is a place where we remember that we have been rescued.
- 40+ folks who were new to the church gathered for dinner last week. I told the story of the last 2 years and how Restoration came to be. We talked about our core values and dreamed about what a church would look like that is living these out. And I invited them to make commitments of membership to Restoration– to use their time, treasure, and talent to build God’s Kingdom through this local church. It was exciting to watch them come forward during communion yesterday and sign The Big Green Book. 🙂
- Today is All Saints Day (Nov.1) The church intentionally remembers those who have died in the past year. We give thanks for their life and memory. I’m thinking of Laurel’s Grandma Novie today. We worship the Lord who makes dead things come alive. Thank God for His resurrection power.
Reflecting on Philippians 3.1-11
“I used to think Paul was talking about ‘count as loss’ in the same way we think about entree choices on a wedding invitation– please select the chicken or salmon. You could have either [they are both good], but ‘I will count as loss’ the salmon and take the chicken. Meaning, Paul could put his confidence in the flesh, in his success, but because he is so spiritual he will actually count it as loss. (and then chalk that up as a success as well…)”
No. Paul is saying, I was wrong. My success in these ultimate things is killing my relationship with Christ. Sure I have the pedigree of success (verses 5-6), but that’s not a laudable thing that I can ‘finish off’ with a little Jesus. Christ doesn’t complete my portfolio of success— a little addition to round me out, make me a renaissance man. No no no. To find my identity and worth on my success in ultimate things is to find my identity in rubbish.
As I was writing this sermon, I realized that those 2 paragraphs capture a significant struggle for me in the past 18 years of walking with Jesus. I really struggle with ‘needing grace.’ To be honest, if I could get by on my performance or my success and NOT need grace, it would be very tempting. In my most sincere moments, I’d like to have a resume that gets me 98% of the acclaim, security, friendship, greatness, ‘life’ that I want– so I could point to myself. Then let Jesus fill in that last 2% with grace. I definitely see myself striving to not be a person who brings 2% to the table and then needs 98% for the rest.
But the reality is we all need 100% grace. Paul knew it. But there are lots of days I think, ‘maybe I can get far enough on my own this time.’ Those are bad days– lots of anxiety, worry, fear, anger, stress.
There is so much life in this little passage. So much resurrection that I need.