Well, of course they’re not are they? Your ‘credentials’ whatever kind they are, perhaps a qualification, a title, a trophy of achievement reveal that you have done something worthy with your life. You worked hard and sacrificed and you received your just reward.
However, the Apostle says: “If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3: 4-11)
The Apostle Paul had achieved much in his life. He had lots he could boast about. Nothing compares to this set of credentials:
circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel – Paul bore the mark and was not from a family of Gentiles who became Jews, he was a pure breed.
of the tribe of Benjamin – Paul could take pride in that he was a Benjamite, the only tribe to stay true to King David when the other tribes rebelled.
a Hebrew of Hebrews –Paul regarded himself not only a Jew because of his birth but because of his belief he was an original Hebrew loyal to the Hebrew faith.
in regard to the law, a Pharisee – Paul was a traditionalist holding to the Scriptures in one hand and the man-made rules handed down throughout the generations to help to understand the law of God.
as for zeal, persecuting the church – Paul had entered a religious and justifiable war against the new sect called Christians. He was eliminating them because he felt that is what God wanted him to do.
as for righteousness based on the law, faultless –Paul knew that outwardly no one could touch him for Jewish behaviours. Inwardly was a different matter but when people saw Paul they saw him without fault according to the Jewish law.
Since finding Jesus as his Lord how does his credentials now compare? The NIV uses the word ‘garbage’ or ‘rubbish’ but actually the Message has it right: “Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, first hand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung.” He doesn’t mince his words does he?
For Paul, he now only has one aim and that is to know Christ and that through experiencing his suffering and resurrection.
What stirred the Apostle Paul after all he had seen and discovered of God to say: I want to know Christ? Did he not already know Christ?
Whenever God reveals Himself He reveals His name, this is not only an aspect of His character but that of His intention. So, foretelling of the coming Messiah Jeremiah says “A king will reign wisely and do what is just and right, he will be called The Lord Our Righteousness” 23:5-6.
“This is who I am Jehovah Tsidkenu, but this is also what I intend to do.”
Exodus 6:1-3 I appeared as El Shaddai God Almighty but my name Lord/I AM/Yahweh I did not make known.
God said to Moses: “Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have never known this name but I am revealing it to you. I am God the redeemer.”
Is it possible that you have carried around in your life a picture of God, a revelation of His nature and intention that has not changed since it was first revealed to you?
It is possible for a whole church to be locked into one aspect of God’s nature eg. The judge. Judgment of sin occupies their preaching, their prayers and principles for ministry. But because of a lack of revelation of God they do not grow in grace, love and mercy.
As revelation changes so does our prayer life. We pray differently, expect differently, we step out in faith to do what we would never have done. We talk about God in ways that use a whole new vocabulary. And our world changes, our home, work or personal lives change. This is because God has given revelation of who He is and what He intends to do.
Two things will be needed to know Christ? Power and Participation.
The resurrection of Jesus is not a past event. It is a continual explosive power that is available to be experienced today so that you can walk in victory. The Spirit brings that power into our lives and it enables us to make great decisions and act like Christ.
The second way we get to know Christ is through participation in His suffering. Bad days are not empty pointless days. They are days when we have the opportunity to identify with the suffering of Christ. The suffering shapes us into his image, others see Christ in us, the hope of glory. Suffering creates the place for intimacy with our Lord.
So whatever you have accomplished is rubbish compared to what is of importance and that is to know Christ. In fact if you have no credentials and don’t feel qualified for anything then you are not in a more disadvantaged position than those who have every trophy you can think of.
All of us need to know Christ.