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Breaking With the Past by Fred Stehman

Doing a 180 with Jesus

Read: Philippians 2 – Colossians 2

Reflect: At what time in your life did you begin to develop a political ideology or point of view? For my generation, opposing points of view began to emerge during the civil and social unrest of the 1960’s.  For some young people, forming first political points of view meant taking a position opposite that of their parent’s generation.  These points of view and ideals often became a foundation for a world view that supported the cultural revolution of the Baby Boomer generation.  It produced great division and a break with the past.

In Philippians 3: 4-12, the Apostle Paul speaks of his past ideology as a devout Pharisee and his radical transformation and pursuit of a new direction to know and follow Jesus. Maybe no Biblical personality other than Paul was as absolutely sure of the correctness of his point of view and determined not to be shaken from it.  After all, Paul could claim complete and blameless adherence to all Jewish laws, customs and rituals. He believed that this put him in good and proper standing with God. Having the mindset of a Pharisee, he believed his behavior justified him before God and there was no need of Jesus. (vs.4-6)

Paul had a rude awakening during his trip to Damascus. There came a great light from heaven and Jesus spoke directly to Paul. Paul discovered that true right standing with God could only come “through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” (vs 9)

Paul’s previous pride in his law keeping and religious efforts could not make Paul right with God. With great loss of position and status, Paul abandoned his past ideology to pursue oneness with Jesus.  He writes: “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (vs 8). 

The challenge for us is to be careful in considering past achievements, or rigidly held points of view, so important that they interfere with knowing and following Jesus. There is righteousness provided alone for us in Jesus. Paul’s radical break from his past was made possible through experiencing the resurrection power of Christ. When we become one with Christ, we experience the power that raised Jesus from the dead.  Opportunity to refresh our point of view can be ours if we pursue a relationship with Jesus built on the realization that we are forgiven and then move on to a meaningful and spiritually rich life based on faith and obedience to Jesus.

Apply: In light of how Paul had to forcibly remove himself from his past, what are some of your entrenched ideologies or held points of view that you need to pray over and reassess? Does your faith truly direct your life, your priorities, and how you treat others? Pray that the Truth of Christ penetrates your heart, melts your assumptions, and provides you with a Biblical perspective shaping your thoughts and heart for regarding yourself, others and even the world. Maybe this is a time that you need the Holy Spirit’s power to break with your past. 

Fred Stehman is a Charter Member of GCC and serves as Lay Delegate to the Evangelical Congregational National Conference as well as being a member of the GCC Ministry Council. Fred is active in GCC Men's Ministry and actively supports SportXchange Int'l Ministries