One of the greatest movies of the last few years has to be Memento.It’s one of those stop-what-you’re-doing-and-rent-it-tonite flicks that don’t come around very often. Guy Pierce plays Leonard, a man on a search to find his wife’s rapist/killer. The glitch is that while trying to rescue his wife during the ‘incident’, he suffered a head wound and now has this ‘condition’, as he calls it: he can’t seem to make new memories. Every 15 minutes or so, his current, real-time memory fades and he has to start over. Imagine being in the middle of a conversation and asking, “How long have we been talking?” or “Do I know you?”. His memory, up to the point of the ‘incident’, is perfectly fine. So, in order to keep on the trail of the killer, he musk keep a constant log of sticky notes, polariods, and freaky tattoos, because his current memory keeps fading…
See, there are scriptures that I absolutely love. And I’m not alone. If I asked my circle of buddies to name their top 10 favorite scriptures, they’d probably name many of mine as well. We probably love the same 10-12 verses. And that probably holds true for nonbelievers as well, IMO. For instance, I love reading things like Philippians 4:13. Psalm 23. Joshua 1:9. Romans 8:37-38. Isaiah 40:31. Love ’em.
But , like Memento, sometimes I read things and it bothers me. it doesn’t encourage me, it discourages me. sometimes, if i’m not careful, it will paralyze me. Case in point: I was reading through Philippians this week and was chewing on the words of Paul in chapter 3.
"But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as dung (gk, skubulon), in order 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 comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead…"
I’ve loved this for a long time. it’s romantic and powerful and idealistic and beautiful. Until i try to lay my life on it. Because what Paul says is, “I’ll pay any price to know Christ more.” Take my health. My family. My wife. My kids. My friends. My job. My ________. And after 20 years of this journey, I’m not anywhere close. Because what Paul doesn’t say is "I count these things as secondary to knowing Christ". He says they are rubbish. Dung. Excrement. Caca. (Do you need another word here?) And that those of us who are mature will go on to think this way as well…
There seems to be this sense of discontenment in Paul’s life. He goes on to say (v.12) ‘not that I’ve already attained this…but i press on.’ He’s passionate about the ‘I want to know him!’ part of this letter.
Yet, as I read it, my response to Paul is, “Dude? Didn’t you get to hear his audible voice? Didn’t you get to go to the ‘third heaven’? I don’t even know what that is… You’re the greatest missionary of Christendom. You wrote 75% of the New Testament. Your worship caused earthquakes in prison. Your handkerchief healed people (Acts 19:12). What do you mean “I want to know him”? I think you know him…”
But when people around here get sick, we ask the church to pray so they will ‘get better’. When Paul ran across the sick, he pointed at them or touched them and said, “Stop that. Get up and walk.” You do understand the difference in power here, yeah? And yet Paul seems to have this holy discontentment that it was all crap (skubulon). That he still wasn’t ‘that guy’ yet who knew Christ and the power therein. He just wasn’t there yet.
How does that make you feel? Do you feel like I do? Maybe you’re farther along in this than I am. I genuinely hope so. Regardless, what has helped you move more towards ‘counting it all as dung’? I’d love your thoughts.