In Philippians chapter three, Paul’s listing his credentials from “circumcised the eighth day” to his meticulous adherence to Jewish Law. He then says: the things that “were gain to me, I now consider loss for Christ… I consider them garbage…” Paul illustrates the meaning we make up.

Just like ours, Paul’s culture attached meaning to his accomplishments.  Yet, transformed by his encounter with Christ, his fellowship with the saints, and the Spirit’s work on his heart, Paul gave it a counter-cultural meaning.


When Jesus Christ takes over a life, he often wrecks it. 

He works to wreck our petty fetishes which  Hebrews 12:1 calls “sins that so easily beset”.

Jesus works to wreck our insolent immaturity.

The veneers we’ve labored to erect.

Our commitments to self-sufficiency.


And selfishness.

So, if you’re life’s being thrashed from sources unknown, look to see if it is the Lord’s loving work: working to undo your independence from him… independence God knows will destroy you in the end.

In the spiritual mushiness of today’s Christian culture, such opposition is held to suggest that God has failed you.  Just the opposite is true.

God chastens those he loves. [Heb 12:6]  Political correctness would have us view such texts with derision. As archaic. Practically prehistoric.  Anchored in a middle-eastern culture too far from the sophisticated sensibilities of our day.

There is a place to assign meaning to life experiences, when, like Paul, we anchor that meaning in scripture, fully informed by Jesus’ life and teaching.  As you and I grow in Christ-likeness, we’ll interpret more and more of life the way he did. Counter-culturally.

That’s how Paul was able to reinterpret his history. Paul was God’s provision for a deeply religious culture that was so proud of itself.  His life, up to Damascus Road [Acts 9] was everything they admired. And, Paul’s life thereafter was just what they’d need to counter the meanings of their cultural predilections.

Consider the Sermon on the Mount. It’s a litany of counter-cultural meanings that Jesus assigns, beginning with poverty of spirit [Mt 5:3] and ending with what an authentic disciple is. [Mt 7:23]

Take a month and only read the red type in your Bible. Let Jesus’ own words soak into you. Allow them to challenge the meanings you’ve been assigning all over your life.

Would you?

Coaching Distinctions #27

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