Book Club,  Soul

What is The Passionate Pursuit of Your Heart?

Welcome to week 4 of our study of Philippians with Matt Chandler’s book, To Live is Christ, To Die is Gain. This week we start examining Philippians 3. So far apostle Paul has shown us what the worthy Christian life looks like and how Jesus is our prime example of a worthy life. This week he challenges us to ask the question what the passionate pursuit of my heart is? What makes me seek Jesus? What is the foundation of my righteousness?

Reading for the Week

Philippians 3:1-12

Psalm 63

Chapter 5 – The Passionate Pursuit

Chapter 6 – Owned

Memory Verse

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.

Philippians 3:7
Philippians 3 verse 7

If we really have all rebelled against the God who created us and he really has set us free from the eternal damnation we deserve, wouldn’t that be the greatest news of all time? This is the question Matt Chandler poses at the opening of Chapter 5. He continues by asking what our proper response should be to this great news.

In Psalm 63 we see an example of David’s sincere, wholehearted yearning for God. This passionate pursuit is the only answer to the salvation work of Christ. Do our lives “reflect an all-encompassing yearning for God.”

Nothing compares to the Lord. Everything else indeed is rubbish compared to the suprassing worth of having Jesus.

Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ To Die is Gain
Nothing compares to the Lord

The Game You Always Lose

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.

Philippians 3:2

From his cold, dark prison cell Paul warns the Philippians against the “dogs”. Matt Chandler defines the “dogs” in this context as anyone who “marks their faith in Christ by what they do or do not do.” They wear their good deeds as medals of honour, comparing their goodness and morality to that of everyone around them. They boast of their own accomplishments as a means of attaining righteousness before God. The truth is these good works are all rubbish before God. Sure, living a good life can be beneficial and cascade to more good, but no good works can measure up to the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Whatever good came from the self-improvement project still didn’t earn a lick of grace from God. Because none of it even approached the utter perfection of Jesus Christ.

Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ To Die is Gain

If you live a good life and avoid sin but you don’t know Jesus, you are lost. No matter how great you sound or how you act, without Jesus “who cares?”.

Only to be found in Him

For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order 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 comes through faith in Christ.

Philippians 3:8-9
Philippians 3 verse 8 to 9

Paul continues Philippians 3 by comparing our good works with the excellence of Jesus Christ as rubbish, garbage or dung. He emphasizes that the only way to pursue righteousness is to pursue Jesus. The goal is to know Jesus, to have a relationship with him.

I have experienced in my own life that the more you get to know Jesus, the more you want of him. The passionate pursuit of Jesus captivates us and transforms us. The joy of knowing Jesus, becoming like Jesus and looking forward to being with Jesus makes all the suffering and pain of this world worth it. The joy of the Lord is Paul’s (and our) strength.

What Moves You?

The passionate pursuit of God for God’s sake goes against our human nature because it requires trusting in Him, walking by faith and “lots of dying-to-self moments“. By keeping our eyes on Jesus and our hope of eternal life with him, we can be assured that our suffering will be worth it. “[Paul] knows that if he will daily share in Christ’s sufferings, he will, in the end, share in Christ’s resurrection (3:11)”

We have to be very careful to guard against feeling a sense of obligation to pay God back a debt for his grace, thus turning his gift into a “self-salvation project”. Instead, we need to ask ourselves what experiences in our lives bring us closer to Jesus, and which experiences separate us from his love. This should influence our rule of life.

For me, precious moments with Jesus look like an early morning run, especially in Springtime. Starting my day with a cup of coffee and studying God’s word brings me closer to Jesus. Hearing or performing a beautiful piece of music feeds the flame for Jesus in my heart.

On the flip side, the things that separate me from His love include things like wasting mindless attention on social media or watching too much television. My anxious thoughts spiral out of control when I am tired or overwhelmed by responsibilities so I have to set strict boundaries on my time to prevent this. Limiting social media and managing my time to include rest is very counter-cultural, but so is following Jesus.

What experiences in your day bring you closer to Jesus? What separates you from his love?

If we’re living a life in a pursuit of Jesus Christ, as opposed to a gospel-denying pursuit of self-improvement, we will answer those questions in ways that push us further into the gospel, not further into legalism.

Matt Chandler, To Live is Christ To Die is Gain

Christ has set us free from the bondage of sin and given us a new life through the Spirit. Therefore, let us lay aside anything that distracts us from pursuing Christ alone so that we can be free to pursue Him, and Him alone, with passion.

Reflection Questions

Here are this week’s discussion questions to take you deeper into the study.

In case you missed it, here are all the study questions up to date:

Video Session

Matt Chandler makes Christianity simple in this video session.

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