From the Pulpit: What’s competing for your identity?

By: 
Pastor Dan Deardoff, Blessed Redeemer Lutheran Church
They can be found all over Brandon, behind restaurants and businesses, but they are usually kept out of sight. What are they? They are those smelly fly-covered things called Dumpsters, and oddly enough, they are the perfect way to picture a spiritual truth. Imagine a ripe Dumpster, the type that attracts raccoons and makes you hold your nose. And what they hold, rubbish, is a key word in Philippians 3:8. St. Paul says that everything about his old identity was all rubbish next to knowing Christ. 
If there had been such a thing as an honor roll in his day, St. Paul would have been on it. He was proud of his Jewish heritage, being one of God’s chosen people, born of the tribe of Benjamin, and he thought he kept God’s law perfectly as a Pharisee. But then one day God turned his life around and Saul the persecutor of the church became Paul, one of its most zealous missionaries.  
Speaking of his life before he knew Jesus as his Savior, St. Paul says, “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 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 come from God and is by faith,” (Phil 3: 7-9).  
“Rubbish” is a nice, sanitized translation of the Greek word St. Paul uses. The word he uses is actually the same word as what street sweepers had to deal with on a daily basis in the days people rode horses, namely “dung.” And that’s what everything still is that is competing for your identity that is anything other than seeing yourself as a redeemed, loved, child of Christ. Were you once the most popular or good-looking boy or girl in school? It’s fun while it lasts, but ultimately it is rubbish. Do you think of yourself as the owner of the best house or car on the block? That too is rubbish. As parents, we are tempted to think our kids are better, smarter, more athletic, or whatever than all other kids. Guess what? That too is rubbish. 
One thing counts in the long run, and that is having the right identity, one that will get you into heaven. Nothing on earth will count when you stand before God but faith in Christ and his righteousness, given to you as a gift. And until then, having this identity is a bonus. It doesn’t matter if someone calls you stupid, or overweight, or whatever to put you down. You can say, “I don’t care, because I am redeemed. I am a child of God, His treasured possession. I am not rubbish!”

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