The Cost of Discipleship: Surrendering our visions.
“Read Phil. 3:7-16
“I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
The hardest thing to surrender is our dreams. We all have them: Things we want to accomplish, goals we desire to achieve, plans we want to focus upon. Paul was not different. From the beginning of his life, he had dreams of becoming one of the great students and followers of the law. He followed all the rituals and regulations of the Old Testament law and Jewish traditions. He pursued all the great teachers to learn from them. He had pursued his education under Gamaliel, regarded as one of the leading Old Testament scholars of his day (Acts 22:3). From the perspective of every Jewish parent, Paul served as the supreme example of what a Jewish family would want to see in their children. From a Jewish perspective, he was the achievement of success. But Paul was not just content to be one among many; he desired to reach the upper echelons of the Jews. He became an ardent adherence and defender of their faith.
Like Paul, we all have dreams. No matter our age or who we are, we have goals we want to achieve and aspirations we desire to attain. When we are young, our ambitions and desires are focused on our education and career. When we are older, it becomes more personalized in dreams we have for our children and family. We all want to live a life of significance. The shelves in a bookstore are filled with books that promise us the principles to obtain our vision and dreams. Books entitled with the words “Reclaim your Dream, Ignite Your Passion, Live your Dream” become best sellers and capture our attention. One of our greatest fears is the fear of insignificance. It does not matter how big or small the sphere of our influence; we desire to be a person of influence, someone whose life is valued by others and meaningful.
However, in his search for significance, Paul discovered that true significance comes when he becomes insignificant. He found that he could only really discover and attain his dreams when he relinquished them. For all his ambitions, Paul finally realized that the worldly attainments only amounted to a pile of manure (the meaning of the word “rubbish” in verse 8). The only thing that mattered, the only thing that was truly important, was to become like Christ and be conformed to his image. Paul realized that only when he relinquished his dreams and pursued the purpose and plan that Christ had for him could he find significance and meaning in life.
This pursuit of Paul is what brings us to the heart of being a disciple. To be a genuine disciple of Christ is to divest ourselves of our dreams and pursue the dreams that Christ has for us (vs. 14). It is the goal of the call of God. This goal is to become like Christ and be conformed to him. It is to be transformed into the image of Christ so that we are like him in all things (Philippians 2:4; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Instead of asking God to help us pursue our aspirations, ask God to give you a new desire—an ambition to reflect his image.