Intimacy with Christ affects how we respond to the pressures of life. Intimacy with Christ enables us to face life with indefatigable invincibility. It is sharing in the fellowship of Christ’s cross, and resurrection power so that just as He was triumphant in the face of Satan we too are triumphant in the face of Satan.
According to Paul, this level of intimacy with Christ required that he refuse to claim any personal merit based on heritage, affiliation, or achievement. Heritage and Hubris (a sense of achievment and place) were insufficient to qualify him automatically for intimacy and eternal life.
As I reflect on this Scripture I am reminded of how rich I am in Christian heritage. I am a benefactor of Christian education from kindergarten to college. I was reared in Sunday School, Sunday worship and Wednesday night prayer meeting. My heritage exposed me to a broad base of Bible knowledge, Scripture familiarity, and doctrinal clarity.
Alcohol, drugs, tobacco and many other social vices never sunk their claws into me. God was good to extend to me much prevenient grace. Still I was a sinner.
Like Paul, my education, Bible training, heritage and relative purity are insufficient to bring me intimate knowledge with Christ. In order to win Christ, in order to know Him intimately, I can neither claim these as substitutes for eternal life nor use them as automatic qualifiers for intimacy. Only grace favors me with God.
Paul insisted that heritage and hubris are insufficient for eternal life. He considered them refuse–even dung. Before you stop reading and declare Paul and me ingrateful recipients of grace, it is important to note he did not say that his heritage was useless dung. Rather, that in light of the glory of eternal life, he considered it as USELESS as dung. As blessed and obedient as he was as a religious Jew, he came to the conclusion that his heritage and hubris must be abandoned as a satisfactory qualification for knowing Christ.
Here is an opportunity for application. I’ve been taught to celebrate and exult in my heritage. But at what point does our exultation in our heritage and Christian hubris become a hindrance to intimacy with Jesus?
I would suggest the following answers to this uncomfortable and probing question. Heritage and hubris become hindrances to eternal life when they are thought to be adequate substitutes for knowing Christ in His resurrection and death. That is, when I am satisfied to have the heritage and hubris without the intimacy.
Heritage and hubris also become hindrances to eternal life when I believe the heritage to be an adequate qualification for intimacy.
That is, because I have this heritage and hubris, I am automatically in receipt of holy intimacy with God.
So how do I know if I am depending upon heritage and hubris instead of grace?
Here are a few searching questions to help answer that question. I invite you to ponder these questions and ask the One whose name you claim to speak to you as He did to me.
1. In the midst of suffering, do I respond in human exasperation and intolerance or do I demonstrate the reality of grace?
2. In the face of evil, do I shrink in defeat or do I enjoy the confidence of triumph with Christ?
3. Am I content with lifeless, powerless and calculated performance of religuous duty or do I enjoy regular, intimate communication with Christ through the ministry of the Holy Spirit?
4. Am I so satisfied with my personal accomplishments that I am not pressing for further Christlikeness?
5. Am I more likely to speak of and glorify my heritage and hubris or Christ’s cross and resurrection in my behalf?
6. Do I have a higher regard for my heritage and hubris or for the cross?
The glory of knowing Christ’s conquering power is too rich a commodity to be bought by human goodness. The good news is eternal life is a gift of grace. You don’t need to have the heritage or hubris of human goodness. If you have a good heritage, thank God for it. It probably kept you out of deep sin. But it’s not your ticket to eternal life. In fact, if you’re not careful, it can get between you and Christ.