"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, 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 and is by faith" (Philippians 3:7-9)
My sophomore year at Wheaton Academy, I chose these as my life verses. Throughout my life, I have heard God singing them over me. "This is Truth," He says. "Walk in it!"
Last night, I had dinner with a group of Christians. Sitting around the table was a pastor and his wife, a ministry leader and her husband, a wife who led a large mom's group in a church, her husband who served on the equivalent of an elder board, and a woman who will be leading a mission trip this year. This was a group of people that should challenge each other in their faith and encourage each other to live out the principles represented in Philippians 3:7-9.
Midway through the evening, I started to grow uncomfortable. The conversation turned to movies. The pastor's wife commented on how much she loved violence in movies, and encouraged the leader of the church mom's group to watch a movie that had a few "questionable scenes" in addition to its violent content. She warned, "It isn't a movie I would watch with your mom or your husband's mom for that matter, but you should see it!"
I squirmed in my chair, noticeably uncomfortable. At what age do we become old enough to watch "adult situations" in movies? At what age do we become too old to watch the same scenes? Is there an age bracket when we become immune to the power of sin? Is there an age when no longer have to judge the things of this world as "rubbish compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord?" My friends seem to think so.
I felt all alone in that moment, even though I was surrounded by fellow believers. I didn't agree with them or their opinions. We were singing different melodies, and in so doing, the resulting sound was dissonant and discordant. When we hear clashing notes, how our ears long to hear some sort of resolution! When we realize our friends are not going to change their tunes, we are tempted to change our own, just so we can hear something--anything--harmonious. But we know that would be wrong. We can't change our tune. We must live in the midst of dissonance and discordance, no matter how uncomfortable it is. That is what it means to lose all things for the sake of Christ. In singing a different melody, the one written by the Songwriter, I am in tune; the songs around me are out of tune.
But lest I become prideful and think that I have got it right and "those other people" are all wrong, let's re-examine Paul's words in Philippians 3:9: "...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 and is by faith." Righteousness does not come from me; I am sinful and depraved. Righteousness comes from God.
Taking it back to the song metaphor, the only One who can make dissonant melodies turn into beautiful harmonies is Jesus Christ. Only when He comes again--when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess--will we be able to take our fingers out of our ears and hear a beautiful song arising from every vocal chord. Only in that moment, will I, too, stop singing discordant tunes and harmonize with the Love Song for the Savior. I can't wait to hear that song!