Third Sunday in Lent
7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.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 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. — Philippians 3:7-11
In an age of unprecedented consumption, an era of unparalleled success of many people, we are confronted with equally unmatched statistics of uncertainty, hopelessness, and a longing to belong. There is a prevailing emptiness that so often plagues us but we continue striving for something for which we cannot attain, all the while hoping that if we mix Jesus in along with those other things, we’ll reach a level of comfort and contentment.
The contrary is what is actually quite true, for we move from consuming and achieving one thing to the next, while still experiencing great loss. All of these things just prove to get in the way of the person for whom we search. They prop themselves up as a means rather than a hinderance. Their acquisition we consider as “mantel pieces,” on display for everyone to see and admire, and, we hope, recognize as something great that we’ve done or for which we’ve sacrificed.
Lent give us a chance to pause this, to see all of these things for their actual worth. They, like so many other things, are not the problem in and of themselves so much as things we use to masquerade our emptiness, our black hearts, the cloudiness of our minds. Even more confounding if how we intensify the chasing of these when we approach and go through suffering.
Rather than take the opportunity to see those things for what Paul reminds us they are—loss—we tend to use them to try to mask the loss we feel in our soul. If, however, we choose to take this time to not only see them for what they are, but to truly set them aside so that in our suffering we rely upon and identify with Christ, then we begin to feel the true satisfaction in our soul that comes from knowing Him.
Gaining Christ far surpasses any of the things that we should count as loss, for this is what brings us to a life that is more like His. We can learn to endure true suffering as Jesus did for the Father rather than spend our time trying to just get through it or to try to fill it with things. Living this kind of life gives us a glimpse into who our Lord and Savior really is and provides us opportunity to be like Him, dying to the things and wants of this world so that we may gain the same resurrection that He did in the next.