Having been a ‘blameless Pharisee’ and having attained to everything in religiosity, it seems so paradoxical that the apostle Paul is so joyous in having been stripped to nothing of everything he had achieved in the flesh:
“I continue to consider everything [achieved in the flesh] to be a loss for the sake of the incomparable value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
~Philippians 3:8a (Moisés Silva)
Into life we came with nothing,
Then we accumulated what we had,
And before God, we had something,
Only to discover it makes us mad.
God saved us to everything,
So we’d be serenely clad,
Happy at last with nothing,
To glory in what makes us glad.
Possession is the key idea in life. What we possess makes us who we are; what possesses us, also. Possessions can be all sorts of things; material and immaterial.
Paul had been transformed from being possessed by legalism to possessing something of incomparable value: the knowledge of Christ Jesus, his Lord. Both, at their time, were of irreplaceable value, though the former could now be seen in its proper light.
Where is the salience in this for us? What do we possess: worldly riches of moderate means, or relatively nothing? The Christian life is everything, especially when we have nothing materially. But the Christian life is ever more significant for the person who thought they had everything, materially, but now knows all they had/have was/is a folly.
‘Everything’ Keeps Us From Christ
The enemy of God—Satan in name—has used additions to our lives, and subtractions, to keep us from truth. Whenever we became rich we actually became poor. And when we lost riches we became poorer for our resentment.
Everything that can be got from this world can hold us to a ransom against salvation.
Everything we can accumulate is a potential barrier to the knowledge of the holy.
Whenever we think of ‘riches’ we should think more broadly in terms of what we value. It may seem radical but our highest goal in life is Christ. When this is true for us—when Christ has first place in our hearts—we are thankful for every secondary possession we have and don’t have, under God. It is to be Christ that orders the preference of our values.
Having Nothing Yet Possessing All Things
Life can be a very disheartening thing if we are given to comparisons regarding possession. That’s the point of the gospel message. We are never too far from bliss.
When we count everything else a loss in comparison with the acquisition of Jesus we realise we have everything, already. These are big words. They are concepts that can fill our minds into eternity.
Even the least has the most.
Having comparatively nothing is a great thing in the kingdom of God. Less is more because Satan has less to deceive us with. When Christ is first, and all else is second, and that order is maintained, we already have everything.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.