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Truly Knowing Jesus

Truly Knowing Jesus Philippian 3:1-11

 

Welcome to Church everyone as we continue our Journey through Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Today we will be focusing on Philippians 3:1-11. Upon reading our focus passage, you may notice (although to a great degree, it is lost in most English translations) how strong Paul’s language is in his warning to the Philippians about a certain group whose destructive influence had already pervaded the Galatian Church. This group, commonly known as the ‘Judaizers,’ were Jews, who although had accepted Jesus as the Messiah, still maintained that full adherence to the Law of Moses was required for salvation. They taught that Gentile believers had to not only believe in Jesus, but also to convert to Judaism to be saved.

The reason this was such an issue for Paul, was primarily because it minimized Christ’s salvific achievement on the Cross and therefore obscured the Christian message. Yet there was also a culturally sensitive reason, in that it was a major hindrance for many a Gentile whom Paul was trying to reach with the Gospel, for to become a convert to Judaism, one needed to be circumcised, which was considered a mutilation of the flesh in Greco-Roman culture and therefore repulsive.

Paul, who was himself a Jew of the highest calibre, was acutely aware that it was not a person’s religious pedigree that made them right with God, but one’s faith in, and saving knowledge of, Jesus. Indeed, since Paul encountered the risen Christ, he came to the realization that God is not so much about rites, rituals and religious practices as he is about restoring relationships and mending the rift between himself and humanity.

Paul’s impassioned plea is just as pertinent for us as it was for the Philippians. With 2000 years of church history behind us, we have inherited a rich and complex faith with all its religious trappings. I myself feel right at home in a traditional church and I enjoy and embrace our Christian heritage, yet I am convinced that we need to frequently ask ourselves if our way of being and doing church is a help or a hindrance to those we are trying to reach with the Gospel. Our primary purpose should be to know Christ and to make him known and all our religious affinities need to be subservient to this end.   

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