Sometimes, when I read my Bible or go to church, I expect to learn something ‘new’ something profound. Yet what I find more and more is that I really just need to rehearse the basics. Passages that should be familiar speak in new ways. Ideas that are foundational still never cease to amaze me. The most beautiful and the most profound things I learn are usually the things I (should) already know.
Perhaps this is why it is the Living Word?
Take for instance Philippians 3, very familiar, no?:
1Finally, my brothers,[a] rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.
2Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God[b] and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— 4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law,[c] blameless. 7Butwhatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8Indeed, 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 rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
12Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
17Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18Formany, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Paul is just a fantastic writer. I can’t wait to meet him ‘on the other side’. Maybe we can have coffee? I can’t help but wonder when I read that if I can be like Paul and say that I consider EVERYTHING a loss for the sake of knowing Christ?
Can I consider ALL of my earthly gains and accomplishments as rubbish?
Can I too say that I WANT to not only be like Christ, but to share in his death and suffering?
Do I consider myself a citizen of heaven or of an earthly nation?
Do I consider it my GOAL to know Christ and to be found in him?
I have read these words so many times. I have heard sermons on them. I have talked about them. Yet, somehow, I cannot help but be struck anew with them, and to be challenged by them again.
Sometimes I wish I would ‘get it’ the first time I read it. Because I feel stupid when I re-read these familiar passages and feel like I have never read them before. Yet, the reality is I don’t know that I’d have it any other way. To be awestruck again and again with the beauty of God, expressed in the Word–really, it’d be dull if it all just clicked on the first read and I never needed to ponder those words and ideas again.
Lord, yes, teach me the new, but never stop reminding me of the basics, the familiar, the routine, the orthodox. Never let me lose the awe and the wonder found in your Word. Never stop teaching me things I already know.