For we who worship by the Spirit of God are the ones who are truly circumcised. We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!

Philippians chapter 3, verses 3 thru 11; from the New Living Translation (NLT)

“Well, what would you give?” Sounds like something a car salesperson or someone having a yard sale would say. Unfortunately, this is what some folks think that God asks us when it comes to having a relationship with Him. Shock Time! That’s NOT the question He asks. It’s close, but no cigar. Remember, closeness only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and nuclear bombs. The real question that God asks us has one more word; and that word is UP!

The question God asks to each and everyone of us is: “What would you give UP for a relationship with me?” Leaving out that 2-letter word makes God into a negotiator. And when it comes to that relationship, God is not a negotiator. That little 2-letter word changes the dynamics between The Creator and the created. Admit it, all of us would give something for that relationship. But what would we give up for this wonderful relationship? In other words, where do we want to maintain our sense of still being in control. Maintaining control is the illusion and delusion that sin offered Adam and Eve–and still does the same thing to us.

And here’s the thing: Satan uses this illusion and delusion whether one considers themselves in the progressive thinking camp or the conservative thinking camp. Many conservatives want to point the finger that progressives think like this. They don’t want to give up who they want to have sex with or their gender dysphoria. But long before progressives wanted to hold onto what they wanted to hold, conservatives were doing it; even refining it to an art form, even a science.

They want their kind of preacher; their kind of music; their kind of worship. They wanted to determine who should or should not be a part of “their” church. They wanted to control how their facilities would be used. Yes, even down to the color of paint and the style of carpet. And most of all, they want to be the final authority on what the Bible means. And all the while, they also wanted a relationship with God. Crazy, right?

It’s not what we are willing to give for this Relationship–it’s all about what we are willing to Give Up! This is the point Paul was making to the folks at Philippi. Paul had his stuff that he believed was so important, that he just couldn’t give them up. And his list of stuff was very impressive, at least by the Jewish standards. And he wasn’t about to give them up. In fact, he kept working on his stuff, polishing and shining it up–that is–until that day he met Jesus just outside of Damascus. And in his blindness, it all came into focus for him.

And so he tells the folks in Philippi: I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. I love how The Message put it: “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.” All his stuff was reduced to doggie poop when The Truth knocked him down.

Why would Paul give UP everything? Not because he found something better for his life. Nope, that wasn’t his reason. He found the best thing of all; and he put it like this: I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. And the only way we can experience that mighty power is to give up everything that we place value upon–for the best life of all. So. . .what are you willing to give up to know Jesus, the real Jesus?