Philippians 3: 4b – 9 – The Apostle Paul speaking to the Philippians.
If anyone thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.
I have come to love the Apostle, Paul. I aspire to his extravagant love for Jesus. This love that cost him his health, his liberty and eventually his life, challenges and inspires me.
I didn't always care for him…in fact I must now confess that at University I wrote a very unflattering essay about Paul and his attitude to women…as I interpreted it in my 19 year old fervour!
One thing you have to concede about Paul…or Saul as he was also known…this guy was committed. In his pre Road-to-Damascus life, Saul was the ‘go-to’ guy for the establishment. He was happy to get his hands dirty rounding up the followers of The Way and he seemed to have a real talent for it.
He was the very definition of a persecutor.
But God looked at him and loved Him. More than that, God looked at Saul and said “I could use someone like that… he just needs a little re-direction.”*
As a complete aside; one of the things I am looking forward to in Heaven is sitting in on a discussion between Paul and C.S. Lewis…just saying…though I suspect that this desire will fade in the light of the magnificence of the glory of God!
All of this leads me to ‘No One Like Our God’. This song came about in an unusual way for me. I had been listening to a pod cast on worship. The speaker was talking about a ‘new song’ that the Lord was releasing on the earth. Everything in me wanted to be part of the new song, to release a sound that was fresh, new, hip and cool!
I sat down at my piano and started to craft something befitting such a mandate. Everything was going…pretty rubbish actually…when I heard the Holy Spirit say “Stop, be quiet. I mean it now!” This was followed with “Wait”, so I sat there wondering how long I needed to sit there.
I have no idea how long I just sat there, not feeling inspired, just doing as I was told. Then I heard him say, “OK, NOW!”
I started playing and ‘No One Like Our God’ poured out. I got the bulk of the song written that afternoon and finished it over the next week. This was very unusual; my song writing process is usually way more tortured, requiring many, many re-writes.
The words echoed the deepest cry of my heart…that everything else fades when compared to the “surpassing greatness of knowing Christ my Lord”. Paul’s cry had become my own…as it has with countless millions of people…echoing down through the centuries.
My prayer continues to be that this will always be my cry…no matter the circumstances that come my way…that my eyes will forever be fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of my faith.
*God may or may not have actually said this.