READ : Philippians 3:1-11
For it is we who . . . boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh. (v. 3)
Years ago a friend told some people that she believed members from many different denominations would be in heaven. Then why, someone asked, are you Reformed? And she said, tongue-in-cheek: “Just to be sure.”
Wanting to be sure. There were those in Philippi who insisted that converts receive the sign of circumcision. Just to be sure.
Paul resists the idea vehemently. He calls those who make the demand dogs, evil-workers and mutilators of the flesh. He sees the identity marker (circumcision) as a competitor to Christ, tempting us to depend on it for our sense of well-being instead of on him. It subtracts from the gospel by adding on to it.
The identity markers have changed since Paul, but the temptation to diversify and not put all our eggs in the Christ-basket is still present. We look to church membership and our achievements: a résumé of good works, our moral decency, generous contributions to kingdom causes, to assure us that all is well with our souls.
We must not only turn our back on sin; we must also turn our back on our own righteousness. John Calvin wrote: “I would have perished, if I had not perished.”
Christ Jesus, nothing in our hands we bring, simply to your cross we cling. Amen.