What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:8-11 (NIV)
Have you ever been to a birthday party where the child being celebrated receives the newest “it” gift? The other children swarm around with platter-sized eyes and mouths open, a stream of oohs and ahs washing over the room. Parents look on, wondering how much the next birthday is going to cost them to get the newest “it” gift for their own child. You can almost hear the chorus of “Did you see what Jane/Johnny got? I wish I had one of those?” as the children ride off in their parent’s cars. Keeping up with the Joneses starts at a young age thanks to aggressive marketing.
Before anyone thinks that all I get my children for their birthdays are socks and pencils just to teach them a lesson, I freely admit to purchasing a few of the newest “it” gifts for both of my daughters. I also don’t believe that there is anything inherently evil about Webkinz or Littlest PetShop stuffed animals. My concern is that over time, my daughters might learn to define themselves by what they have rather than who created them. It is a conversation that we will have more than once in the course of time.
This passage from Paul got me thinking about my own value system and whether I do the same thing with the newest “it” things in my life. I was surprised to find in myself this little child pulling on God’s sleeve asking for one more blessing, one more sign or wonder. I wondered when the “content in all circumstances” had changed to “Gimmee, gimmee, gimmee.”
Paul gives us a new prescription for viewing the world. He places things in two categories: Rubbish and whatever will help him know Christ more fully. He isn’t being severe in this assessment, but clarifying for us that if we truly understand what it is to know Christ, nothing will ever come close in comparison. I am looking forward to walking this road with my daughters, learning to find our contentment in the hands of a gracious God, rather than the shelves of stores or pictures on the screen. We can also discover what it is to value Christ above everything else – not as an idea but an active attitude that changes the way we see the world and our place in it. It should be an interesting journey as long as we press on.