"But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith" Philippians 3:7-9.
I write this article from Camp Meeting this year. As I have been working with the Junior class we have been taking them through the life experiences of Paul and his missionary companions. One of the common themes in each of the Bible characters' stories, whether Paul, Luke or Timothy, is the way in which their relationship with Jesus inspired them to abandon comfort, respect, safety, and their own desires in the all-consuming passion to share the love of Jesus with every person they could find. These stories have caused in me, in a fresh way, to ask myself if I, like Paul, count all things as loss for the surpassing glory of knowing Christ. Too often I find myself in the situation where I am tempted to think that I need Christ and something else. You know, Christ and a good job, Christ and a safe neighborhood, Christ and staying in my comfort zone, Christ and my hard work, Christ and... You get the picture. But for Paul there was no room for Christ and..., there was only Christ! Because Paul found his all in Christ, he was able to be abased and abound, full and hungry, to have everything or to suffer need (Phil 4:12) because he realized that he could "do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13).
As I examine the times that we are living in, I have the ever increasing certainty that if we embrace the "Christ and..." version of Christianity are going to find that our faith, in the end, is nothing but idolatry. It will not sustain us because God will not possess only half our heart; it is an all or nothing deal. Jesus warned us against laying up treasures on this earth because where our treasures go our heart will follow (Matt 6:19, 21). So this month I feel challenged to embrace "only Christ" and forsake "Christ and..." ways of thinking about life. What about you? Where do you stand?