Everything I once held dear

So, now that I have a newborn son I’ve found that my concept of “morning” and “evening” are getting somewhat skewed. I wanted to start this blog by saying, “This morning while I was spending some time with God and holding my son…” Only to realize that what I thought was morning was actually 1pm. Things are getting weird around here! Little Isaac is bent on making midnight his bedtime for now. Thankfully Tuesdays are one of the few days where I can sleep in.

…This afternoon while I was spending some time with God and holding my son, the song, “Lead me to the cross” came to mind (by Brooke Fraser of Hillsong). I have found it a valuable practice not to consider such “random” songs as distractions during my quiet time, but instead assume that the Holy Spirit is at work and that I should flow with what He’s doing. I have found spontaneous, private and acapella worship has added much to my fellowship with God.

One line in particular stuck out to me in this song:

Everything I once held dear, I count it all as loss…


Click here to listen to the whole song.

If you are unaware, this is taken from a verse in scripture. Phil 3:8

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.

I have had this impression that this verse is often translated and applied like this:

My past life that I thought was awesome (you know, drinking, sleeping around, drugs, violence, and killing puppies) I now consider lame when I compare it to being in relationship with Jesus.

We want to make sure everyone knows that life with Jesus is SO much better than the life of sin we lived before He destroyed our sin nature (Romans 6:6, Galatians 5:24) and breathed His own nature into us (John 20:22, Romans 8:9). Unfortunately that’s not what Paul was actually talking about here.

The apostle Paul was not comparing a life reeking of sin against a life with Christ, no he was actually comparing a life of religious piety to life with Jesus! Check it out:

Watch out for those dogs, those people who do evil, those mutilators who say you must be circumcised (a religious ritual thought to make you right with God) to be saved. For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! Philippians 3:2-4

Paul was one of the most “Christian” people of his time. He followed all the rules, went to “church” all the time, fasted on a weekly basis, memorized tons of scripture and did everything “right.” He was required to be ceremonially clean and could not participate in “sin.” Let’s not forget that this life of apparent self-righteousness was the very life that Paul said he now considered a loss. Loss = negative, in the red and anti-productive.

I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. Philippians 3:7-10

Our hope is built on nothing else. Not our righteous Biblically-based laws, not our abstaining from sin, not our ability to figure it out and get everything right. Our hope is built on a belief that God can be trusted. We need to believe in the promises God has made and live as if they are true. Every amount of human effort is worthless. In fact, Paul says that the human effort of law-following had to first be discarded as garbage before he could gain Christ! This is so different that what many of us have been taught.


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About Nathan Banker

Nathan, Michelle and their two sons are occupational ministers in the Twin Cities. They do spiritual mentoring, a form of prayer ministry call Prayer Resolution and help run a small church-like community called Immerse. They dream of changing the world, one person at a time.

One response to “Everything I once held dear”

  1. Ted Boal says :

    Welcome to fatherhood, Nate. You will certainly find parallels between the tasks you must now face and your Heavenly Father. And your faith will grow in the midst of the tests of sleeplessness and joyousness. Until we die we are able to grow; becoming complete in Christ is never done and always the goal. Well said, brother.

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