Paul in this passage talks about his identity, or status in life. We all derive comfort or satisfaction from our place, or standing, or identity. We have many roles and we try to do our best in them..
Paul talks about his past privileged standing as a Pharisee. He had been respected. But he says, now the only role I desire is that of servant of Christ. The things that used to matter, don’t matter at all when it comes to the wonder of knowing Christ.
I’ve lost my standing in society, for Christ, Paul says. Not only that but I’ve lost all things for Christ. We think of what Paul suffered for Christ He sacrificed material things and physical comforts when he travelled to tell others about the Lord. He was misunderstood, imprisoned, beaten.
I have pondered Paul’s writings lately. His passion and single mindedness amaze me. Nothing matters for him except knowing Christ. He uses his energies to serve Christ and urges us to live a life of service which flows out of thankfulness for what Christ has done for us. How does this happen? How are some people blessed with this kind of devotion? Paul’s energy comes from love. He loves the Lord and so he serves the Lord. He knows how much he has to be thankful for.
Paul says he has forgotten what is behind and strains for what is ahead. It’s an athletic image; Paul has no feet mired in this world’s interests. He has jumped in and is racing to Jesus with all he’s got.
This passage has imagery of extremes. Paul throws away into the garbage his former identity. Paul has lost everything. He races toward the goal of knowing Christ. He presses on. May we find the grace to be extreme. Please, God.