So I'll cherish the old rugged cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
These words to the hymn "The Old Rugged Cross" used to catch my attention when I was young. I would think a lot about how hard it would be to lay my trophies down. I had trophies for basketball, for football, and for baseball. Some of them were championship trophies, others were merely for participation. But they meant a lot to me. I didn't really look forward to laying them down.
Recently, while going through some of the things that are still in the house where I grew up, I saw those old trophies. They don't mean much to me any more. They'll undoubtedly end up in the trash soon. Somehow "laying them down" doesn't seem as hard as I once thought it would be.
Of course, the hymn isn't really talking about those kinds of trophies. It's talking about all of life's accomplishments and achievements. It's talking about laying down everything I've done and everything I've been.
The apostle Paul knew about that. In Philippians 3, he goes through a list of "trophies," a résumé of sorts, listing the things he could brag about regarding his life and his heritage. Then he says,
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ (Philippians 3:7).
Paul isn't just talking about baseball trophies from his childhood. He's talking about being willing to turn his back on everything for the sake of Christ. He goes on to say,
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 want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead (Philippians 3:8-11).
I know that just as my childhood trophies have lost their value to me, I'll one day look at all the things that seem so important to me now and see that they are like trash compared to knowing Christ. On that day, I'll lay my trophies down and receive what God has to give me: life without end.