It was amazing. As I read his story I kept coming back to that very idea – Amazing. You see the man was sharing his life story with me and he was telling me how he built his first company from the ground up at age 24. He made his first million at age 28. He then started 3 more companies that he then sold for millions more in his mid-30’s. And then! You can guess, can’t you?
And then he confronted a man, a monk, who had nothing, who owned nothing who profoundly affected this millionaire’s life and the millionaire turned his back on his fortune and entered the monastery. So I asked the question that you may be wondering as well “Was it worth it?” The man’s eyes shimmered with tears as he assured me he considered all he was before becoming a monk as nothing compared to the joy of an intimate relationship with God! I was uncharacteristically speechless! Wow.
Look at our Epistle Lesson today in Philippians 3:1-8 and we will read that St. Paul had a similar story:
BRETHREN, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not irksome to me, and is safe for you. Look out for the dogs, look out for the evil-workers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh. Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. 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 refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.
All week we’ve been listening in as St. Paul encourages his faithful at the Church in Philippi and here he exhorts his faithful to appreciate what having faith in Christ has cost him and how glad he was to pay that price. In fact, he considers all his accomplishments before Christ to be nothing compared to now having Christ!
You see, possessing faith in Christ is worth the labor, worth the challenge, even worth saying good bye to those temporary comforts that seem to consume the time and priorities of many around us. And yet, when you possess faith in Christ you’re priorities are affected by that faith because that faith expands your horizons into eternity instead of how many people live just thinking their life is made up of what they can acquire while they live. This faith expands your vision into eternity!
This faith even makes bearable the “loss of all things” as we priorities knowing Christ above everything and everyone else!
Today, are you willing to suffer the loss of all things to have your faith in Christ? Of course this is impossible unless you’re willing to understand and grasp that knowing Christ makes everything else in your life find it’s proper perspective. It’s only when our priorities are disordered that we value smaller things as more important than Christ, and even what we value loses it’s value because it is in the wrong place. It is better to be Orthodox on Purpose and allow this central reality to order everything else in my life!
P.S. I pray you find time to go to liturgy this Sunday! If you are in the Atlanta area, I want to invite you to come to liturgy at Sts. Raphael, Nicholas, and Irene Greek Orthodox Church in Cumming. We would be honored to have you with us! Liturgy starts at 10 AM.