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May 2, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him . . .”—Philippians 3:7–9 (NLT)
A relationship with Jesus changes everything. Let the truth of these words ring in your heart and mind for just a minute. A relationship with Jesus changes everything. It doesn’t just change a few things and leave other areas unchanged. It shouldn’t change 50, 60, 75, or even 99 percent of your existence. It should absolutely change everything in your life: your attitude, habits, words, deeds, the way you view the world, the way you view yourself, the way you view others. It should change what you value and what you pursue; it should change you to your very core. Why? Because your very core is being replaced! Consider 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB), which says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” and Galatians 2:20 (NIV), which tells us, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”
All throughout the Bible, we see this truth play out. From Zacchaeus to the woman at the well to the disciples, life takes on a whole new meaning when Jesus enters it. Perhaps the most powerful example of this in Scripture is seen in the life of the apostle Paul. You see, the great apostle and writer of the majority of the New Testament wasn’t always the man we encounter in the Epistles. Actually, he was something else entirely. In Philippians 3:5–6 (NLT), he says, “I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault.” Pharisee. Persecutor. Murderer. This is who Saul (Paul) of Tarsus was, until one day when He encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus.
Acts 9:3–6 (NLT) tells us the story: “As he was approaching Damascus on this mission, a light from heaven suddenly shone down around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?’ ‘Who are you, lord?’ Saul asked. And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting! Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.’” From that moment on, Paul’s life changed forever. His whole world was flipped on its head. And he never looked back. Years later, as he recalls his former life in an effort to combat the threat of legalism from creeping into the hearts and minds of believers in Philippi, Paul tells us that all these things he used to consider valuable, that he used to identify himself by, he now considers “worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
Today as we celebrate Easter, I want to remind you of something: If you’re a Christian, that means that like Paul, you also had an encounter with the risen Christ! It means that at some point in your life, the Lord stopped you dead in your tracks, knocked you off your horse, and changed your life and your story forever. But let’s not forget the second part of Paul’s encounter with Jesus, where he says, “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” Like Paul, we’ve also been given a directive by Christ; we have also been told to get up and go!
This wonderful day of joy and victory should also be a day that reminds us of our calling and commission. It should serve as a yearly rallying cry that spurs us to help others encounter the risen Jesus for themselves so their lives can be changed forever . . . so they can experience the freedom and eternal security that comes through the sacrifice and resurrection of the perfect Lamb of God!