by M. Jolaine Szymkowiak

Breaking with Tradition
M. Jolaine Szymkowiak
Philippians 3:1-11

Paul is writing a reminder to the people of Philippi consistent with the reminders sent also to the people of Corinth, Ephesus, Gallatia, to look out for people professing to be what they are not, to look out for people saying one thing and living quite another (Philippians 3:1-11).

Explaining this statement Paul gives his life story: how he according to tradition had been circumcised by the age of 8 days, was of the people of Israel, tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews, he was a Pharisee and was a zealous persecutor for the church. Being a Pharisee, he was blameless in the law. He had been doing everything right--according to the book. He had done nothing that would have been shaming in the sight of the law. He was well known and respected by the hierarchy of the church.

And then he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus. Christ, the one whom he had been persecuting through his acts against the believers in Christ. He had asked permission of the elders to go to Damascus, find and persecute the Christians there.

In this encounter with Jesus, he found that all he had known before, all he had done before, all his training in the laws and traditions of the church was all trash, rubbish. He counted all that was before rubbish "for the sake of Christ," "the surpassing worth of knowing Christ
Jesus, his Lord."

By following the ways of the law, he was in control. He experienced a righteousness of his own. When he found Christ he found that righteousness came from God depending on faith in Christ and knowing the power of His love and grace.

Paul moved from religion to revelation, from persecution to proclamation. And he is asking that of us today. We tend to want set rules for our Christian walk, we want set ways of worship on Sunday morning; we tend to want set instructions on how to bring someone to Christ. We tend to want to control what goes on around us, in ...

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