The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. (Philippians 3:7-9 MSG)
As often as we can manage, we ought to pause to search our hearts to check what credentials we hold as proof of our faith in Christ Jesus. As Apostle Paul says to the Philipian church, some of the credentials that we hoist as banners of our faith are nothing but junk to be trashed. While the Jews erroneously thought that flashing a piece of shriveled foreskin at the pearly gates will gain them entrance. Today, the thing we consider as proof that all is well between God and us is more often than not a fat bank balance.
Rather than “the sincere milk of the word of God” (1 Pet 2:2), we have developed an addiction for the ‘sugary soda’; these ideas derive from making a staple of sermons that Apostle Paul warned Timothy about when he said the time will come (and I believe it is here), when what will be mostly available is junk ‘gospel’.
You’re going to find that there will be times when people will have no stomach for solid teaching, but will fill up on spiritual junk food—catchy opinions that tickle their fancy. They’ll turn their backs on truth and chase mirages. But you—keep your eye on what you’re doing; accept the hard times along with the good; keep the Message alive; do a thorough job as God’s servant. (2 Timothy 4:3-5 MSG)
Seeing as this new junk gospel is pretty popular these days and giving hoards of people false hope, here are some credentials that we will do well to remind ourselves of on a daily basis.
Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world. (James 1:26, 27 MSG)
“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” (John 13:34, 35 MSG)
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. (Matthew 5:43-47 MSG)