Religious Upbringing

Rich Rockwood

READ : Philippians 3:4-14

. . . circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee. (v. 5 NIV)

When it came to belief in Jesus, Paul's religious background was an obstacle. He had a stellar résumé: he came from the right tribe, was circumcised the very day prescribed in the Law, had studied under the right teacher, was a Pharisee.

When I was in the army, there was a First Sergeant who used to sit facing the door with his elbows stretched forward so everyone could notice all the stripes on his shirtsleeves. The things we've worked hard for are things we like to show off. My office wall proudly displays my Certificate of Ordination and Fitness for Ministry.

It can surprise us to learn that all those things that give us pride can be barriers to getting close to God. Paul had to be knocked off a horse to see this. What he discovered is that righteousness (a right relationship with God) is not based on any of those things he had accomplished or been born to. It was simply a matter of reliance on Jesus' sacrificial death for our sins.

The accomplishments and religious heritage we think propel us into God's arms are the very things that can hold us back. The best path to acceptance, forgiveness, and new life is to come “Just as I am, without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me. O Lamb of God, I come.”

PRAYER

When I come right down to it, Lord, all I can offer you is myself.