Archive for March 4th, 2019

Philippians 3:12-16: God’s Upward Calling

Monday, March 4, 2019

It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus].  Paul always insists that our perfection lies not in that we live without error, but rather that we persist in pursuing wisdom and obeying God.

I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus.  Paul always explains that our lives are nothing if they are not centered in Christ and lived through Christ.  And Paul remains God’s humble servant as he empties himself of self in order to make room for the Spirit to dwell within.

Paul does not worry about how to be perfect for when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. (1 Corinthians 13:10). 

Paul exhorts others to persist in this noble pursuit, to fight the good fight, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love patience, and gentleness.  Compete well for the faith.  (1 Timothy 6:11-12)

Paul explains that although we are in the flesh we do not battle in the flesh, for the weapons of our battle are not of the flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Paul reminds us that whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

When I was a child I remember the days that ran up to Christmas as ones that were full of mystery and quiet excitement.  Did Mother hide the presents in a place I might stumble upon as my sister had done?  Would the surprises in store for us on Christmas Eve be spoiled by running ahead too quickly or with the wrong intention?  Did Santa really think that I might be old enough to appreciate the gifts I wanted so much?  Is it really possible for a tiny baby to save the world?

We noticed that Mother and Dad exchanged quick looks when one of us talked about what we hoped to find under the tree.  We saw that Mother smiled a lot as she brought in the extra groceries for holiday meals; and that Dad did not mind the extra work it took to prepare a household for a Christmas worth remembering.  And without words being spoken, we were aware of how important God was to our celebrating.  We were asked to live lives of quiet gratitude for all that we had and all that we were . . . and we were asked to do this well.

In our plugged-in, high-powered world today, the days of Advent seem cluttered with too much activity and not enough reflection, too many loud advertisements and not enough quiet jubilation.  In this special season of mystery and anticipation, Paul reminds us that unless we move forward in Christ we are stagnant, or worse, we move backward.  Paul tells us that the race is long and that we must pace ourselves.  Paul calls us to join him in his faithful, constant, steady progress in Christ, for Christ, toward Christ.  Paul asks us to be our best selves in spite of all that we see around us that disappoints us or causes fear; he tells us that our genuine maturity arrives with Christ and not in spite of him.

When we move forward in Christ we cannot lose, we must win.

When we move forward in Christ we do not grieve forever, we will rejoice.

When we move forward in Christ, our worst fears and anxieties will not overpower us, we will learn to face and even conquer them; and we will discover that we have indeed been taken possession of by Christ, we have pursued and even claimed the prize of God’s upward calling.

A re-post from December 10, 2011.

Image from: http://www.darren-price.com/android/

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