My first wake-up call of 2018
I’ve read this passage many times in my life. But sitting there in that small, crowded room in downtown Ottawa, I was blown away by the magnitude of these words, and the implication of them.
There were roughly 25 of us—all of different ages and backgrounds, sitting shoulder to shoulder around a square of inward facing tables. We spent most of a weekend studying Philippians. We circled keywords in coloured markers, underlined themes and asked questions.
By the time we got to these few verses, it was dark outside on the second day, and my caffeine was wearing off. But now Paul was poking holes in my comfortable life; I was wide awake.
I read the words again. Paul had just said that everything he had—even the good stuff—was so insignificant in comparison to knowing Christ that it could only be described as a loss.
Christ is so perfect, holy and wonderful that even what we value most in this world becomes a negative when put beside him.
I stared at the page, trying to jot down notes in the margin that could sum up my awe. But no words came. All I could think of was how my own worldview was completely unlike this.
For context, I was raised in a Christian home, and I have called myself a follower of Jesus from the time I was old enough to grasp what that meant until now. My faith has always been an important part of my life. It’s been a crucial part of most of my big decisions.
And I’d love to say that it defines me—that if someone were to ask me who I am, the first thing I’d say is that I’m a child of God, forgiven by grace. But there are a lot of things that spring to mind first. I place more value on jobs, money, my abilities, education or who my friends are. I’ve spent most of my time chasing after temporal treasure—half-heartedly pursuing eternal treasure with whatever energy I have left over.
Paul’s words were like a bucket of icy water in the face. A wake-up call. Especially in the Western World, where we have so much religious freedom, our sense of its value lessens because we don’t have to think about the consequences of identifying as Christian. We don’t have to work out in our minds whether or not we’d be willing to die for what we believe because the chances of that actually happening are pretty small.
But if you've grown up in a country where religious freedom is restricted, this question is a very real one. You would have to consider everything in this world as invaluable compared to knowing Christ. Otherwise, why would you risk losing everything for him?
I can honestly say that for most of my life, I’ve taken my faith for granted. Over the past few months, I’ve been re-examining how my faith in Jesus actually means undergoing a complete transformation and an emptying of myself—bending my will to Christ’s.
Full disclosure: The idea of giving up my reliance on money, people or education and trusting solely on God is downright terrifying. But I do know that I don’t want to spend any more of my life chasing after things that don’t actually matter.
Money is stressful, and possessions don’t actually give me true joy. People are amazing, but if I put them in the place of God they continually disappoint and frustrate me. Jesus also says that if we seek his kingdom first, all our needs will be taken care of. (Matthew 6:19-34).
If we genuinely believe something, it should change and shape how we act. So, I’m embarking on a new journey of seeking to live for Christ, not for myself. My goal with this blog is to be as honest as possible about the process.