Tag Archives: phil 3

Awards We Don’t Deserve

I couldn’t help but notice the flutter of posts about Obama’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize this morning.

Here’s an excerpt from the full story:

Obama expressed surprise at winning the award, saying he felt humbled and unworthy of being counted in the company of the “transformative figures” of history who had won it.

“I do not view it as a recognition of my own accomplishments but rather an affirmation of American leadership,” he said in the White House Rose Garden. “I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.

I haven’t heard anyone (besides the Nobel Committee) say that they believe Obama deserves this prize. In fact, my liberal friends are saying they believe the award has been cheapened now since Obama hasn’t really accomplished much in nine months.

Before you get the wrong idea, I didn’t write this post to bash Obama. Rather, I’d like you to notice something: people tend to get their dander up when they see someone receive an award they really don’t deserve.

It’s offensive to our human nature. It’s unjust! “Who does this person think they are, accepting an award they don’t deserve?” people ask.

And look at how Obama responded – “I will accept this award as a call to action …” – in other words, “I don’t really deserve this award, but I’m going to take it and remember that I need to live up to it.”

I’ll be honest – I don’t care whether Obama won the Nobel Prize or not – it’s ultimately meaningless. What’s interesting to me is the parallel I see in the free gift Jesus gives to us that we don’t deserve:

Romans 5:6-10
6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.

7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die.
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!
10 For if, when we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

While we were powerless, no good, ungodly, rebellious sinners, Jesus died for us. He gave us a gift much, much, much greater than any man can invent, and we did absolutely nothing to deserve it. We did just the opposite.

Paul understood this undeserved gift God has given us, and that’s why he said:

Philippians 3:14-16
14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.
16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

“Let us live up to what we have already attained.”

What is Paul referring to? The gift of salvation and forgiveness of sin that Jesus offers to those who follow him.

If Obama wants to try to live up to his Nobel Peace Prize, let him. In my opinion, he’s setting his sights too low.

As followers of Jesus we’ve been given a gift we don’t deserve but in an ultimate way, and we have the privilege of striving to live up to it.

May we always do our best to “live up to what we have already attained.”

Happy Friday 🙂

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What does it mean to have a Christ-centered identity?

Who am I?

A small question with profound implications.

Did you know sociologists have discovered that how a person chooses to answer that question will define how they think and behave in almost every situation in their lives?

It’s a scientifically proven fact, and as a result, your answer to the question “Who am I?” is a very, very important one.

I personally believe that, for you and everyone else, the answer to the question “Who am I?” should be firmly rooted in who Jesus Christ was and is. If it’s not, then there’s a problem.

Today I walked the Lake Merced Church through a lesson on living a Jesus-centered life that I’ve been mulling over for a while, and would love for you to listen to it too.

Lesson based on Philippians 3.

Here are a couple of diagrams I made (included in the PowerPoint) to illustrate the difference between a self-centered life and a Jesus-centered life as I see it.

It’s important to point out that this all STARTS with someone choosing who they’re going to be at their core – what their identity is:

 

 

This first slide is a picture of a typical person’s life. You can substitute other things for the word ‘self’ – career, pleasure, lust, consuming want of a romantic relationship, fame, money, etc., but all of those ultimately lead back to the same thing – self centeredness.

Some people may not be completely self-centered. Their life may be centered around something else – it may not even necessarily be a bad thing (like family or kids), but if Jesus isn’t involved then there’s a problem.

As you can see from the diagram, choosing (and ultimately your core-idenitity is your choice) to have a self-centered identity affects every aspect of a person’s life, from their worldview, to their priorities, to their way of life, and all of these things feed into one another.

 

 

The second slide is a picture of someone who’s chosen to center their life around Jesus – a picture of a disciple.

As you can see, with their identity rooted in Christ, every aspect is affected.

The apostle Paul is a great example of a guy whose life was depicted by slide #1 until he had his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road – after that happened, he experienced a total identity shift (what we call a conversion or being born again), and he moved to slide #2!

I go into this in more detail in the lesson. If that sounds interesting to you, give it a listen.

If you like listening to preaching and would like to hear more, visit the sermons page of this blog (yes, I know it’s badly in need of an update – I’ll do it when I do it!).

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