Throw Out Your Religious Resume!
July 3rd 2016 @ Zion UMC
1 Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not troublesome to me, and for you it is a safeguard. 2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! 3 For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh— 4 even though I, too, have reason for confidence in the flesh. If anyone else has reason to be confident in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, a member of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. 7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Moving is not fun at all not only because of packing and unpacking, but also because of sorrows of parting.
Two months ago, my family and I experienced the moment of parting in Korea.
My wife, two little kids and I visited family in Korea in May. We had a really joyful and wonderful time in Korea, but it was so sad when we left our family. We cried and prayed peace till we will meet again.
And two weeks ago, one of my friends who is a missionary in the Philippines visited us for three days and left. It’s also a heartbreaking parting.
And my family and I said goodbye to the congregations that we cared and served for four years. I cried while the congregation and I sang “God be with you till we meet again.” It’s so sad and hard to not cry.
Packing and unpacking are heavy and tough jobs, but it’s not that heavy and tough in comparison with parting. Nonetheless, we learn by our experience that packing and unpacking help us forget quickly the feeling of sadness. Packing and unpacking sometimes is good medicine, helping us forget all our sorrows that comes from the feeling of separation. So, it’s why psychologists suggest doing some goofy things like packing and unpacking, or shopping and returning, or eating a lot and running miles, when we feel sadness.
But moving to a new place also brings things that make us happy. The new place that we settle into a new town makes us excited and happy. New people in the new church welcome us, and my children’s new school and new playground are also the good sources of happiness that we could have in this new place. How about neighbors, who wave hello to us, walk across to introduce themselves, ask us what made us move into this town, and talk about themselves and the town.
Moving and parting is not always sad or stressful.
Sadness and happiness come together during this moving season in my life, bringing both meaningful and memorable moments. Tears and laughter come together. I don’t want to lose any moment from these times of parting from my old friends and linking to the new friends in Zion UMC and Hampshire.
This is my heart.
This is feeling.
And this is my gratitude.
My family and I want to express our gratitude to all of you for the parsonage that was cleaned and well prepared for us. Especially, I would like to give my thanks to Bill, Jo and Gina as you visited us and helped us to settle in well. It’s perfectly helpful for us.
Your immediate response, help, and deep interest to our settling in made us feel welcome. Thanks again!
II. Things we need to dump out
During this process of moving, there is one thing that I realized, that I had forgotten, and realized once again.
In my room, there are many things that I need to dump out. I mean I found tons of things that my wife might call trash in every corner of my office, basement storage room, and garage.
But, as some of you might agree with me, it’s not easy. Dumping things out that have belonged to me for long time, that contained special memories and important meanings for me are not easy. I thought if I could have a magic container in which I could put all that stuff in at one time, I’m willing to pay for it. Unfortunately, scientists and engineers haven’t made “the box” for poor hubbies. It could be a big business.
Anyway, I collect magazines, movie tickets, music CDs, documentary films, Water Park passes, airplane tickets (I still have the plane ticket that I purchased when I first came to the US), letters, cards, books, and notes. I say it’s collecting, but my wife says it’s piling up garbage.
Nonetheless, honestly I found many things that I haven’t used for many years while I was unpacking. (When I packed all my stuff, maybe I found something that I needed to throw out in Pearl City, but I didn’t, as I couldn’t.) I found something that I couldn’t understand why I still have it, like soccer socks that has hole in it.
Anyway, I realized that dumping out is so important to move lightly and to find space for the new things that will come.
If we want to go further effectively, we should make space so that we can accept new things in us by dumping out things that we don’t need any longer, or at all.
But, again, to poor hubby, it’s not easy.
III. Paul’s religious resume
In today’s passage Apostle Paul teaches the believers in the church of Philippi to lose what you have had in you in order to find the surprising value of Jesus and to be found in Him, by parading what he had as a devout Jew before he met Jesus.
The church in Philippi was founded by the apostle Paul on his second missionary journey, recorded in Acts 16:1-40. Paul originally went to Macedonia because of a night vision described for us in Acts 16:9. Paul stayed there several days (Acts 16:12), saw the religious life of those in Philippi that was marked by very syncretistic practice including the worship of the emperor, the Egyptian gods, Isis and Serapis, as well as many other deities. Most importantly, Paul met those who were called “Judaizer” practicing Judaism in the church. They practiced Jewish tradition including circumcision and forced other Christians to be circumcised. (Philippians 3:2-4)  They adapted Jewish religious practices or sought to influence others to do so.
In Philippians 3:2, Paul calls Judaizer as dogs, evil worker, and those who mutilate the flesh; and warns the people in Philippi about them, because they strictly and tightly held the Jewish traditional and religious confidence and forced others practicing it in the church of Philippi; and because it’s not what Jesus taught His disciples and what Jesus wanted His disciples to do for the Kingdom work.
Paul says in verses 2 and 3 of today’s passage, “Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh! For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”
And then he parades what he had had in him as a devout Jew before he met Jesus.
This is his religious history that he grasped tightly and boasted proudly before he met Jesus.
Let’s look at each one of them briefly.
He says, “Circumcised on the eighth day: Circumcision on the eighth day was according to divine enactment. (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3) The apostle was a born Jew, and on the appointed day had received the seal of the Abrahamic covenant.
- A member of the people of Israel: Even though he was born in Tarsus—Turkey—the national characteristics of his family was still Israel.
- The tribe of Benjamin: Paul belonged to the tribe of Benjamin, a tribe highly thought of source of the first king of Israel—King Saul—and which formed with Judah the foundation for the restored nation after captivities.
- A Hebrew born of Hebrews: Paul was the son of Hebrew parents who had retained their Hebrew language and customs, in contrast to the Hellenized Jews who read the Old Testament in the Greek Language.
- Pharisee: Paul was a passionate adherent of the strictest religious tradition among the Jews. The Pharisees were noted for their strong attachment to the law, and their determination, at all hazards, to uphold its validity.
- A persecutor of the church: He persecuted Christians.
- Righteous under the law: As a Pharisee, Paul was one of an elite corps of 6,000 Pharisees who believed that they could attain salvation by keeping the Law, basically a list of "do's and don'ts".
- Blameless: His life is of such purity that none can find anything in it with which to find fault.
It’s his religious resume that he held for long as a proud and devout Jew.
IV. How we begin our new journey
It’s not easy to throw out things that we have held for a long time, even though they became fossils, invisible, or useless in our life. I found things that I needed to throw out, but I couldn’t, as I thought that I could or should find some reason why I must keep it somewhere.
Have you ever felt like me?
What have you thrown out recently from your old things?
How did you feel when you threw out that stuff?
Was it your intention or somebody asked you to dump it out?
How much did you like it?
Was it still useful?
What did others think about the stuff you dumped out?
Are you still missing it?
From today’s passage, I heard my Lord proclaiming, “Throw out doughtily what you have had for your new journey in Hampshire.”
I want to begin our new journey from this teaching of our Lord through Apostle’s epistle: Losing or throwing out all that we had before, to begin our new relationship and new ministry.
I heard about you, Zion.
Some told me about you, although I didn’t ask them. They knew that I was appointed to your church and I begin my ministry here today. They brought some information about you that they wanted to give me. I heard. But it’s their opinion or reality that they saw and found in you. It’s not my experience. I don’t remember what they told me. I will experience you through my own time with you.
I don’t want to know what you did before. Although what you did as a disciple of Jesus is important because it tells who you are inside and outside of church, but that’s not you that I experience. I will know you through my own experience.
You may say you can tell me what you did as a believer; I appreciate what you did for your Lord and the church. But I will experience you though my own eyes, ears, hands, feet and heart. That’s what I really want to do first in the first six months.
Please throw out your religious resume. I don’t care how long your religious resume is or what kind of religious practice you did, but I care about you by meeting you, and talking to you.
I just want to know how and why you come to this church, what makes you keep coming to this church, and what do you want to do together after the first six months.
I will meet you as your pastor to know you through my own experience.
I will prepare a sign-up sheet for one on one coffee meetings between each and every one of you and me. If you find a proper spot in the coffee meeting schedule, please print your name. I will meet you face to face and listen to your life story and tell you about me, and then ask those questions, “How and why did you come to this church, what makes you keep coming to this church and what do you want to do together after first six months.”
Let’s close the message by reading verses 7 through 9.
Apostle Paul says, “7 Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. 8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him.”
All that we have gained as religious people could be considered rubbish. Why? Because of Jesus Christ. We will receive our reward when we will see our Lord face to face. We only need Him here and now for our faith, ministry and relationship, not our religious history.
Let’s walk this path together humbly by emptying ourselves, and accepting Jesus Christ and one another through our own experience.
This is my resume. It mostly contains my religious academic achievements and ministry achievements. This could be rubbish if I hold it tightly and fill my soul with it so that my Lord couldn’t find room to stay and work with me.
I shred and throw this resume out. I empty myself before my Lord and before you to make more room for my Lord and you, so that my Lord will work freely in me and you will find some place of friendship and love in me.
O Lord, our ultimate
source of life and revitalization, we pray for your powerful guidance so that we will throw out old things that we have had as our religious history. Lead us to the new time and place of ministry, and empower us to work actively and humbly for your Kingdom in and among us.
Help us to build up the new and healthy relationship among us, and strengthen us to work in and with you continually.
I invite you all into the silence, as we will receive the Holy bread and cup.
Remember His life, death and resurrection in silence, and ask Him to touch your heart, as you will come forward to share the bread and cup.
 Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: a historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Oxford University Press, New York, 2008), 350-351