READ PHILIPPIANS THREE
When Paul looks at all his accolades and at the righteousness gained for Him in Christ, he notices how his pedigree is simply garbage (or stronger!) in comparison. Even the things that he has poured most of his life into accruing for himself – a Jewish heritage and righteousness based on the Law – is simply dung when brought into the light of God’s gift of salvation.
Paul considers his pedigree worthless in light of his salvation. What does Paul now value instead (8-11)?
Instead, Paul has placed his ultimate value on one things: knowing Christ and being found in Him. Paul’s union with Christ is not just theological for him, but a part of his daily experience. He is united to Christ in His sufferings, even as Paul suffers in prison. He is united to Christ in His righteousness, as Paul puts confidence in Christ’s completed work alone.
On first reading, it might seem like Paul is unsure if he will also be united to Christ in resurrection. The language used here can indicate that Paul isn’t certain if he will be able to attain resurrection from the dead. But from Paul’s other writings we know that Paul absolutely believes that salvation (including resurrection) is a work of God, not something we can attain by our own merit or effort. Such a notion would fly in the face of what he has just laid out in chapter 3! Instead, Paul is reflecting on the ways in which it has been his honor and privilege to experience union with Christ: through suffering and eventually death. And when Paul looks past death and sees the resurrection that is sure to come in Christ, he knows he is utterly undeserving. He looks at his past life and at the glory of His risen Savior, and he stands amazed that God would give him the promise of life everlasting. Paul is expressing not uncertainty, but awe. It is as if he is saying, “Somehow God has seen it fit – in a ways I can’t even imagine – that I would also receive resurrection in the likeness of my Savior.”
Paul’s emphasis on his union with Christ is all encompassing. He was not just united to his Savior in salvation, but remains united to Him in all of life. This is the reality of the Christian life! We are not just brought into eventual relationship with God, but are brought into relationship with God right now. We aren’t just united to Christ in some future sense, but are united to Christ at this very moment as we go throughout our day.
How does the reality of your union with Christ change your day? How should it change the way you live each day?
PRAY & REFLECT
Spend some time prayerfully reflecting on what it means that you have been united to the Son of God. Ask God to open your eyes to this reality throughout your day. Ask Him, by His Spirit, to remind you of this salvation truth throughout your day today.