Wait a minute! My childhood wounds, my physical and mental challenges have no pride component.
I didn't ask to be sexually abused.
I didn't ask for M.S.
I didn't ask for bipolar disorder.
I wouldn't wish what I have or struggle with on anyone.
Agreed. This is not about blame. It's about bondage.
Take a moment here to consider Paul. He says in Philippians 3:4-6: "If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: 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; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless."
To someone on the outside, this looks impressive. But how much does Paul actually choose? Circumcision? No. To be Jewish? No. His tribe? No.
What were Paul's actual choices? To become a Pharisee? Yes. Persecuting the church with vigor? Yes. Following the Law to the letter? Yes.
So Paul is a combination of many things: his past, present and the choices he made with his history in mind. But, if you had heard Paul before he was knocked off his donkey, his resume would have been recited with pride. Even though much of his life was not of his choosing, he would have acted as if he was the greatest thing since Pop Tarts.
But after his list, look what he says, "But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 on the basis of faith." (Phil. 3:7-9.) [emphasis mine]
Did you catch that? His life, his past, his choices--all "garbage." The original word in the Greek is actually "dung." What do you do with garbage/dung? Throw it away. It has no value. It is the salt that is worthless, only to be thrown out and trampled under foot.
Whatever defined him, whether of choice or imposed, was equally tossed onto the garbage heap.
Why? He is now defined by Christ. His life, his past his choices: now are for Christ, of Christ and by Christ. Who he was, who he was called, how he saw himself, is now taken from the life of Christ.
Look at the next verses: "I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Phil. 3:10-14)
His sense of who he is and his purpose of life is to get to know Christ more deeply, more passionately, and to become, in this life, more and more like Him, through His power. Paul's humility shines, however; he knows he is not there yet by any stretch, but he presses on.
What does this have to do with bondage? Look at some other verses where Paul identifies his adherence to the Law as bondage, full of fear: "For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.' The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." (Rom. 8:14-17) [emphasis mine]
Paul is now defined as a child, free, adopted, an intimate with God, heir and co-heir, and beloved participant in His divine plan.
Wow. No more garbage. No more bondage. No more defining himself.
Wait, hear comes Satan.
His whispers are scalding, devious and mocking: Yeah, OK, Paul. Fine. You were a Jew of Jews. Big whoop. Not much to leave behind, I suppose. But, they are all snickering behind your back, though... "Paul the Wacko Christ Follower. Who'd want to follow a crucified self-proclaimed Messiah anyway? Pharisees get respect, and even the Romans stay out of our way." OK, take on a new title. But let's focus on the murder part of your past. You persecuted the church, not just with words but with stones and blood. You relished dying followers of that deluded rabbi, and you enjoyed the respect and prestige that such a zealous defender of Judaism received. But you have blood on your hands, Paul. Forever. Yup, you followed the Law all right. To the point of killing Christians. No god is that forgiving. Go tell that to the victims' families. I can hear it now: "Hey guys! I am a Christian now! You lost your brother, but hey, not my problem now, 'cause I am no longer that guy!"
But Paul is no longer identified with what he did--zealot, murderer, high and mighty teacher--he is now identified with Christ. His chains are gone. He is free in Christ.
Paul's identity, once given to him by his heritage, his actions and his life, is now given to him by Christ.
So, our diagnosis, our past, our challenges are not who we are if we know Christ.
Do we press on? Yes.
Will we need help along the way? Yes.
Will God use counselors, friends, pastors, medications and His love to help us heal? Yes.
Will Satan try to derail us in our progress? Yes. Count on it.
Will pride try to tell us we are who we are, and we should take identity in that? Yes.
Will pride tell us we are survivors? Yes.
Will pride tell us it's the society that is messed up and not us? Yes.
Will pride tell us we should not have to change to some outdated biblical standard? Yes.
As our pride speaks, in slithers Satan, and we start to blame others for our deep pain. Then the bondage begins.
Emphasis mine and amen!
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