If you had peeked into the farmhouse kitchen tonight, you would have spotted me sitting with my back to the stove and my Bible in front of me, grinning away with sheer delight. The Lord had just unfolded Philippians 3 to me in a way that I never saw it before--and it made me laugh because of how obvious, and yet how breathtaking, it all was!
Paul begins by exhorting the Christians to delight in the Lord--the surest safeguard against settling for less than God's best. Paul then describes how he put all of his natural assets into the "liabilities" column of his life's account book, because although they might take him far, it would be in the wrong direction, away from his ultimate goal.
Then, he seems to lower his voice as though he's about to share something shocking.
The people who knew him when he was a zealous Pharisee, shook their heads when he abandoned them and their legal religious system. "We had high hopes for that young man," they said. "He could have been the foremost among us--but look at him now! Ready to waste his life hanging around with these nobodies who call themselves Christians! What happened to his ambition?!"
Then the tide begins to rise. Paul is now ready to reveal to the world his ambition. Like waves crashing relentlessly higher and higher up the beach, he lists the the components of his goal
At the very outset he promises that the thing he's aiming for, is so valuable, he is glad to give up absolutely everything that he ever had going for him, and the enjoyment of every human, physical comfort. What for?
"For the sake of Christ...the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord...that I may
know Him, and may be found in Him...having [righteousness] which is through faith in Christ...that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead...that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus...the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
And as his bold voice rings out, I laugh with glee--laugh at the idea that any earnest follower of Christ could ever be said to lack ambition! Why, Paul has just listed almost ten things, each one of which is unattainable by the human efforts of the best person on earth! No person can be good enough to attain God's righteousness! No one by his own efforts can know God! Certainly no one can provide themselves with resurrection from the dead! And yet each one of these things, and more, is within reach to those who have been redeemed and justified by faith in God!
Christians have for centuries baffled those who strive for wealth, power, influence, and ease. In every age, God has had His faithful ones, who were content to work hard for little money, be overlooked in public affairs, go unrecognized by the crowds, and "waste" their talents and genius, laboring in jungles and deserts, for the sake of Christ Jesus. Yet I think it is safe to say that every child of God who "suffered the loss of all things" for Him, also would join Paul in "counting them but rubbish," in view of the spiritual bounty that God gave them in return.
It makes me wonder--do I have any ambition at all?