But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. (Philippians 3:7-9 ESV)
It does not matter what we have achieved or who we have become. When we know we are 'in Him' all these things stop being important as we start to recognise something else, something deeper and more real. Paul's aim was to discover the reality of being found by Christ. He often uses the phrase 'in Christ' as this speaks of a unity and oneness with Him. He has discovered the truth of living in the sonship of Jesus and therefore being like him.
This is the unity that Jesus describes in John 14: we are in him and he is in the Father and so, therefore, we are in the Father. As Richard Rohr describes it, we are caught up in the divine dance. The beautiful unity of the Trinity is not a dream but a reality. It is our home and resting place.
It is this that Paul seeks to attain. Too often verses 12-14 are interpreted as us having to push into ministry, function or gifting. But this is not what Paul is writing about. The goal is not ministry or function, in fact those are the very things Paul now considers to be rubbish (or more literally, manure). The goal is the thing Paul has already referred to: it is knowing Christ and being found in him. It is living in the sonship of Jesus. Ministry may follow but it flows out of our sonship.
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